Skip to main content

View Diary: Taking Issue With Idealism (68 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  So, you're saying a humanist can't be an idealist? (7+ / 0-)

    Or vice versa? Or just that it's hard to remember there's a horizon when you've fallen into the creek?

    One thing you're totally wrong on, except in some far flung philosophical matrix: life is not a zero sum game. Life is lots of things, including complex, exhilarating, and really minuscule on a cosmic scale. Scaling it down that far to try to help make a simplistic point does both it, and you, a disservice.

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 06:25:21 PM PDT

    •  This is what I mean by a "zero sum game" (8+ / 0-)

      I'm not saying that life isn't filled with amazing, wonderful, complex and fascinating things, nor am I saying that nothing we do in life makes a difference. I'm not a nihilist.

      What I am saying is that the record of humanity is one of consistently circulating problems and solutions where a "solved problem" only leads to newer, different issues that need to be dealt with.

      For instance, multiple commenters here have mentioned the abolition of slavery as a big picture example which required a certain amount of idealism to tackle, which is true. The point that I would like to try to make is that the abolition of slavery is one event on a continuum and that whenever a large issue such as slavery is "dealt with" it is replaced with something shortly there after that is often times just as insidious, i.e. a century of sharecropping and Jim Crow. The same pattern holds true after the civil rights movement's heyday, with the rise of the modern US police state and the mass incarceration of minorities.

      The main thing I wanted to get across was that it is the process and the tangible, person-to-person struggle that matters most and that ideals can often blind people to the reality of what is happening around them.

      •  Well, I'm afraid that you didn't get either of (5+ / 0-)

        those points across to me. I won't say that the person to person struggle doesn't matter, but I certainly can't say that it matters "most". The fact that ideals can blind some people to reality certainly doesn't mean that all idealists are blind, and I suspect we need them just as much as the day to day sloggers.

        New solutions most often do create new problems - in science and engineering as well as in human interaction. And problem solvers find all kinds of ways of working to fix them. You don't need to be an idealist or a humanist or any other 'ist to see a problem and want/try to fix it, you just have to be somebody who likes to solve problems. Or somebody who enjoys pointing out problems. Or...

        At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

        by serendipityisabitch on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 07:27:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Social work is different that social change and (5+ / 0-)

        both are important. Social work is addressing the here and now, patching up the casualties of the current society, and trying to move things forward a bit. Social change is focusing on changing laws, institutions, wealth/income distribution, and culture that prevents systemic change. Both social work and social change are really important, and neither is necessarily better than the other. But they are certainly not the same thing.

        I am glad for all the social workers who do what they do. I personally don't have the patience to do that work, and I would get frustrated and burned out in much less than a month. Social change is more my orientation.

        Social change is also frustrating, especially in this time when most of one whole political party is dedicated to moving our society back to the early 1800s and they have been much more successful in the past 30 years than I ever could have imagined. But then there is something like the issue of gay marriage – that I expected to take centuries and instead is advancing at lightning speed (just a couple of decades) – that encourages and entices me into continuing the struggle.

        For those going into social work, thinking that they will change the world is naive. It is better to scale down expectations and be realistic. But those going into social change must think they will change the world (at least somewhat) or they are wasting their time. As Thoreau said "In the long run, men [people] hit only what they aim at… they’d better aim at something high."

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

  • Recommended (129)
  • Community (63)
  • Bernie Sanders (44)
  • Elections (35)
  • Hillary Clinton (28)
  • 2016 (27)
  • Culture (27)
  • Climate Change (26)
  • Civil Rights (23)
  • Environment (22)
  • Science (22)
  • Labor (18)
  • Law (18)
  • Barack Obama (17)
  • Spam (17)
  • Media (17)
  • Republicans (17)
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership (15)
  • White House (14)
  • International (13)
  • Click here for the mobile view of the site