Today All Groan Up welcomes a wise and well-written guest post from Scott Savage. I needed this reminder today. Enjoy!
The extent of our generations’ success will hinge on this one question – will we embrace cynicism or will we embrace hope?
As millenials, our influence as the largest generation since the Baby Boomers could unleash humankind’s imagination, creation, and transformation in spaces all over the world.
Yet, how will we respond when our best laid plans suddenly resemble an epic car crash?
Many of us entered our college or our twenties brimming with optimism and idealism, dreaming of what the world could be. Within a few short years, we faced the bleakest job market in decades, the crushing weight of student loans and overwhelming stereotypes placed on us by older generations.
But our response can not be cynicism. It’s too dangerous of a choice.
The Danger of Cynicism
What exactly is cynicism? As one person put it, a cynic is someone who refuses to be hurt or disappointed again. H.L. Mencken said, “A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin.”
Like a clogged drain, cynics and their destructive worldview plug up the pipeline that runs from present status to future success. By refusing to be hurt or disappointed again, cynics refuse to risk the very things that heal, inspire, and transform. If hope is not possible, fear becomes a very good option.
So, what about the visionaries, the dreamers, the innovators in our world?
Invariably, we find that none of those people are gushing with cynicism. They actually believe change is possible, and they work hard to see it happen.
Cynicism costs us our success. That’s why so much is at stake when we lose our idealism. Our response will determine our future…and the future of those who experience what emerges from our ideas and creativity.
So, how do we win the battle against cynicism- for ourselves and our work?
3 Ways to Relentlessly Reject Cynicism
If cynics are wounded people who refuse to be hurt or disappointed again, then forgiveness is the path to hope and renewal.
As many have said, refusing to forgive can be like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die. Letting go is not easy, often requiring prayer, meditation, therapy and time. Until someone can be open to risk again, hiding and hurting will be the easy options.
2. Make New Friends
One of my friends described cynicism as the “head table” in the high school cafeteria.
Everyone wants to be cool enough to sit there, but once you get there, you can never leave. If you try to be positive or hold out hope at the “cynics table”, you get yanked back real quick.
“Take steps to sit with the visionary weirdos and you get a bean burrito thrown at your back”, my friend said.
For some, it may take sitting at a “new lunch table”. For me, I had to stop hanging out with certain people. I had to abandon certain authors whose focus on what was wrong made it difficult for me to see the bright spots that inspired hope. Some of these new friends were longing to be freed too – we just needed each other’s company to take the step.
3. Prepare for Resistance.
A couple years ago, I came across the words of Robert Sobukwe, a political leader who facilitated resistance under South Africa’s Apartied in the 1960s. Sobukwe said:
“We are the first glimmers of a new dawn. And if we are persecuted for our news, we should remember that it is darkest before the dawn, and that the dying beast kicks most violently when it is giving up the ghost.”
Whether you call them “haters” or “naysayers”, there will be resistance to your shift. It may look like a “burrito in the back” or something much worse.
The resistance, though, may be the very sign that you’re moving in the right direction. It may be the reminder you need that hope has taken root in your heart and is beginning to displace the cynicism.
The call must ring out to every millennial today – for their sake and their generation’s sake – relentlessly reject cynicism.
Scott Savage is a writer and pastor. He is currently writing a book about his journey from idealism to cynicism to hope. He is married to a lawyer and father to a two-year old, with twins due this fall. He blogs at scottsavagelive.com and you can find him on Twitter @scottsavagelive.