Lets admit it. In America being cynical is cool. Cynical like Bogart in “Casablanca.” Like Clint Eastwood, Simon Cowell, Donald Trump, and Cher. Cynicism plays well in bars, parties, even in some early relationships. The cynic holds enormous power, for he or she never has to reveal themself. They can scoff at their world without ever exposing their own doubts and weaknesses.
Among history’s cynics were Plato and Marcus Aurelius, Machiavelli and Alexander Hamilton, Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon. Right now the taxpayers in St Mary Parish, Louisiana, have every right to be cynical as their new $3 million convention center just sank five feet into the ground because the contractors built it over a swamp.
Here’s the point.
Most times cynicism is so damn easy and cheap, as in the way critics sneer at a Justin Bieber, complain about a do-nothing Congress or a do-it-wrong Presidency, and in general sit comfortably in the stands of life watching the players fumbling but trying.
One of cynicism’s favorite targets is “the way they used to do it.” In effect, everything and everybody before them. However, all too often such cynicism scoops up all too many shining babies with the dirty bathwater. At my age this brings to mind “the way we used to do it” like: Honoring teachers, cops, firemen, clergy, flag, country, and those once-upon-a-time MGM favorites Andy Hardy, Mr Smith Goes To Washington, Sullivan’s Travels, Leave It To Beaver, and Happy Days.
You wanna talk about corny…? Phony…? Sugar-coating reality….? Yep, those “babies” fit perfectly inside the cynic’s “dirty water” scooper. What a shame.
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