Are Americans Being Too Cynical?
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Politics and Activism

Are Americans Being Too Cynical?

Let's turn on the lights.

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Are Americans Being Too Cynical?
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Is the United States entering into an era of cynicism? Recently, there was the Twitter trend where Canadians were telling the U.S. how great it actually is. I know things in this country-- heck, the whole world-- aren’t going too great, and 2016 as a whole has just been a bit intense and scary. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that there is a lot of negativity surround us right now, but I do know that there are some good things happening, too. Sometimes it is hard to see that, but it is important to acknowledge that while 2016 has been a year of scary developments, there are many wonderful things happening. So back to my question, are Americans being cynical? At what point do we go from being aware of the realities we are facing to just being cynical?

I have been told on many occasions that I am generally a happy, positive person. It’s something like a life philosophy of mine to try to exert as much positive energy into my environment as I can. I also try to avoid negative energies. However, this year has brought many changes and with those changes has come, what I feel to be, a shift in our culture’s overall mindset on the realities of our world. While I try very hard to avoid negative energy, it becomes somewhat of a disrespectful move when I fail to acknowledge or take part in movements in our society that need the support. That being said, there is a point where an issue or issues can be so consuming it is hard to see all the good in our lives.

I think the key is balance-- keeping an open mind and realizing that there is just as much love in our world, if not more, as there is hate. There is just as much hope as there is fear. I know my philosophy that love conquers all doesn’t apply to all issues or situations, but love is still extremely powerful. It’s easy to get carried away by anger, and there are plenty of reasons to be angry, but at some point, it becomes destructive to the health and spirituality of the individual.

Here are a few quotes from Harry Potter that I feel accurately fit into what I am trying to explain. Not only that, but I also feel they may be uplifting for many of you, including myself. I found the quotes on letterpile.

“Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” The Goblet of Fire

“Do not pity the dead, Harry, pity the living, and above all those who live without love.” The Deathly Hallows

“We are all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.” The Deathly Hallows

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” The Prisoner of Azkaban, the screenplay. This is a super important line that I think most people can draw from. It is hard to remember that we have a choice to flip the switch.

“The world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside of us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” Order of the Phoenix.

This last quote is one that I hope you all remember. I feel maybe a part of our cynicism stems from an “either-or” ideology that change can only go one way and if you aren’t with us, you’re against us. A person who makes mistakes isn’t a bad or evil person. We all make mistakes and nobody is perfect. We all have inner demons and we all come from different places and backgrounds. No one person has the right to judge another. However, there are people out there who do many bad things. No matter how much we try to change that, bad things will always happen. It doesn’t mean people are incapable of changing or getting better, though. It isn’t easy to build up a person who has wronged you, but sometimes that’s all it takes to help a person realize truth and all the good that lies within themselves. Love and forgiveness is a powerful source for change.

You may be wondering, what good has come out of the year 2016? What could I be talking about? Here are a few things that have happened all over the world this year (taken from Market Watch and Good News Network).

  • There were 3,200 tigers in the world in 2010, now in 2016 there are 3,890 tigers. This shows that tiger populations have increased and the World Wild Fund believes it will continue to do so.
  • “India plants 50 million trees in one day…” The website also states that there were about 800,000 volunteers that helped to achieve this goal.
  • Remember the ice bucket challenge? Well, as many of you may know, the fundraiser has actually helped to raise enough money and the gene that is linked to ALS has been discovered, which may help in finding a cure.
  • A plane flew around the world without dropping any fuel.
  • Solar power is on the rise-- “Solar power brightens prospects in East Africa”
  • Chobani announces paid parental leave policy for all employees no matter the wage.
  • There is a sanctuary for abused circus elephants in Brazil
  • "Skin patch to treat peanut allergies will benefit children"
  • “Salmonella test results hold promise for non-invasive cancer treatment”
  • “The US and China join 196 other nations in Paris Climate Agreement”
  • The U.S. graduation rates for high school are at “historic high”

I could go on a bit more with this list, and I know 11 good things happening in 11 months doesn’t seem like a lot, but how can we recognize the progress we want if we can’t recognize the progress we are already making?

It’s okay to be cynical to a degree, but be mindful that cynicism isn’t the same as being realistic or logical. There is a lot going on in the world and not all of it is bad. As the cliché goes, it’s going to get ugly before it gets pretty. Lastly, to the reader personally, please remember to turn on the light.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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