Everyday Idealism

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[...] health is produced by establishing a natural relation of control and subordination among the constituents of the body, disease by establishing an unnatural relation.

[Plato] 
The Republic (Penguin Classics Edition), p.154

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Idealism                   <------------>             Pragmatism
Long-sighted            <------------>            Short-sighted
Imaginative              <------------>             Realistic
What can be             <------------>             What is
Generalities              <------------>             Details
Thought                    <------------>             Action
Radiation                 <------------>              Gravity
Inflation                    <------------>             Deflation
Breathe In                 <------------>             Breathe Out
Diffuse                     <------------>              Pointed

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The pendulum swings equally both ways
Day follows night
Each complements the other, as dark complements light.
As a whole, we need an equal amount of each, for balance, for health.
But which side do we collectively place emphasis upon? And which do we turn our backs upon?

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Diagnosis
We are ill.
What are the symptoms? What are the causes? What are the remedies?


We identify the problems because the solutions lie in their opposites. Symptoms are simply imbalances. To address symptoms is to even up the scales. When we identify problems clearly, we also identify their solutions.

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Q. Who are we?

We are all born somewhere between the two poles of pragmatism and idealism. None of us is entirely one or the other. We each contain a unique mix of both. Some will be more idealist than pragmatist, some more pragmatist than idealist. Those nearer to the middle of the scale will not readily identify themselves as either, and to them such labeling may seem unhelpful or untrue. They may say they are both, and it depends on the situation. This is because, being nearer to the middle, they cannot readily identify themselves as being nearer to either pole. They are lukewarm. Sometimes they think they're hot, sometimes cold. It depends. This is natural and normal.

It is those nearer to the extremes - pragmatism on one side, and idealism on the other - that will find truth in these labels. They feel the difference more readily.

We must understand our nature - and, importantly, understand that it is not only valid, but vital to the wider scene.

From there, we work to understand everyone's nature; and see how all fit into and complete a jigsaw.

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Q. Why are we ill?
A. Our climate is toxic. In other words, it is critically imbalanced.

First we must understand that we are in a climate that is biased towards pragmatism. Commerce is a system predicated upon pragmatism. Not only that, but idealism is actually a threat towards its existence. People can think idealistically - they may even be able to act idealistically within certain carefully defined parameters - but Idealism cannot be given an equal placing at the table. It is a threatening substance and must be carefully controlled. When people think too idealistically they are unable to act as pragmatically - one negates the other. In the eyes of commerce, idealists think too much. Doing is better than thinking.

When the system that surrounds us - which dictates how we should act and think - is geared towards the pragmatic mentality, those of us that err more towards idealism will suffer many a blow at its hands. We will be continuously persecuted: misunderstood, overlooked, belittled, humiliated, bullied. Various words will be chucked our way in a general effort to get us to fit the status quo: naive, dreamer, unrealistic, vague, etc.

Unfortunately, many of us will not have the perspective or the tools to defend ourselves from this onslaught, and we may give in to the pressure to conform, learning to quiet a fundamental part of ourselves in the process. This is a travesty because in surpressing our idealism we are going against our nature.

In an environment of stifling pragmatism we - as idealists - are not only entitled, but obligated to demand more idealism from life. This is our message for the world, the one we were born to carry, and it is especially vital as remedy to the toxic imbalance of commerce. Commerce at its height is nothing more than rampant pragmatism: the short view carried to its lethal extreme. We are, as a whole, gagging for the long view. That is where idealism comes in.

The pendulum has swung too far the other way. Things are too flat, too crushing, too dead. We need more magic, more intensity, more peaks, more spirit, more romance. And not in the lives of characters in films or books; or celebrities - not second hand. In our lives. We are entitled to these things; more than that, we are ill through lack of them.

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Q. How do we get better?
A. Look after - defend - yourself. Once you are healthy, help bring balance to the wider scene. In other words, allow your idealism to flourish and to reinvigorate your environment. 


The pragmatic environment is one that works to ground things, to deflate and anchor them. In such a climate, the idealist - whose nature is inflation - must be very careful to conserve and to restore his energy, otherwise he risks becoming as deflated as the world that surrounds him. A measure of pragmatism is healthy for us - it stops us from drifting too far, from becoming lost in the clouds - but too much is toxic. 

We need restorative baths of idealism. Currently we may get these through watching certain films or reading certain books. In surrounding ourselves with characters that reflect this aspect of ourselves, and situations that allow it to flourish, we recharge our batteries. The danger here is that idealism becomes confined to fiction; a nice dream. We must restore ourselves in other ways, in ways that allow idealism to flow within our own - real - lives. This may mean orchestrating situations that kindle the flame. These can, and have, taken many forms: a Sun Dance, a Vision Quest, a sit around the campfire, a sweat-lodge, sharing a pipe, star-gazing, meditation, silent contemplation, silent non-contemplation, dancing, fighting, making love, being creative, storytelling, dreaming, creating, communing, questing, adventuring. Call them 'rituals', or 'ceremonies'. These are just words, for important things.

The first step is in understanding that idealism is not something to be ashamed of; or to grow out of. It is not something that only exists in films or books. Idealism has always flourished in fiction - but our age has made the mistake of severing the link between fiction and reality.  Whereas in bygone times fiction would have flowed into reality - informing thought and action -  now it serves as little more than a novelty: as way to pass time until we die. Messages no longer pass through the cell wall of culture and into the body of the collective. The walls have closed up: cultural forms have become prisons. But the natural home of idealism is where it has always been: within our day to day lives. We must make room for it.

Do not be afraid to be laughed at, or vilified. To offer an analogy: in an environment of hatred, those who express Love will be seen and treated as oddities; this does not make Love something to be ashamed of; and it certainly should not discourage us from expressing something that we know in our hearts to be good. It says more about the toxic nature of the environment than it does about the validity of Love. The same applies to Idealism. It is a necessary and important aspect of being human. Let it flow.

If you are an idealist and any of this resonates with you, then you with have an inkling yourself of how to give life to that important aspect of yourself. It starts in self-defence; in sticking up for your idealism and not allowing it to be crushed. Let them sneer. Become a laughing stock. But know that there are many others like you. And that your candle, as insignificant as it may seem when surrounded by such overwhelming darkness, is part of a dawning light. It will grow. Trust yourself, and believe in yourself.

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Related posts:-
The Colour Wheel
A Healthy Body
Get Real
You ought to be more like me 
The Right Match 
The Devil is in the Details (and God is in the Generalities)
Life Support 
Small Mind/Large Mind
Part of a System
Know Your Place 

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