Marcell Subert, Copy Editor

Idealism has a place in society. Possessing a set of beliefs that can energize oneself and other individuals to foster rapid change can be a very powerful force. However, idealism, especially in the political arena, has its limits. In its most extreme and dogmatic form, it can even be dangerous.

I would like to highlight that there is a fine line between excessive optimism and woeful cynicism when it comes to addressing the problems that face our society.  I have unfortunately seen many of my friends fall to either extremes, consequently pushing themselves to the outer reaches of both sides of the political spectrum. The end result of this progression has been the gradual development of two factions on opposing sides of the spectrum who have succeeded in antagonizing one another and burrowing themselves further into their own echo chambers where their own idealistic solutions to society’s problems morph into undeniable truth.

I feel that many people possess a strong desire to be able to fix problems in their lives and in the world around them. This desire, I believe, makes many people susceptible to ideologies that promise streamlined solutions to the world’s woes; essentially, people cater to the ideologies (on both political extremes) that offer them the most closure. On top of this, the problems themselves may also be interpreted in a fashion that is adapted to these clear-cut solutions. For example, in the relation to the hot-button issue of race in America and minority underrepresentation and discrimination, some point to the problem as a systematic one that is the product of a legacy of sustained racism from Caucasian individuals who cannot come to terms with losing their grasp on their societal power. Others may counter that minorities who feel underrepresented in society simply do not expend the necessary effort to better themselves and the communities that they live in, frequently pointing to people of color who have managed to rise to the upper echelons of wealth and power in America. I will not attempt to validate or contradict either of these theories. I do feel, however, that neither of these explanations, and their corresponding solutions, are inherently correct. Proponents of both theories will point to statistics from reputable agencies in order to back up these claims (yes, arguments from both sides are frequently substantiated with factual evidence). That leaves one with an unnerving question: who is really correct? This discomfort that some people face when facing this question is what I believe causes some to burrow deeply into a shroud of blind idealism. By surrounding themselves with like-minded individuals and deriving information from biased sources (raw numbers don’t tell their own story, statistics require interpretations that can be tinged by a preexisting bias in order for them to be meaningful), many people can fully convince themselves that they are on the correct side of the issue.

What I am proposing is not a mass abandonment of one’s beliefs or the kicking of the concept of idealism itself to the curb. I believe that idealism has a place in society, but I don’t believe that it should be carried to the point where the end result is the arrogant assumption that one’s opinions are correct and that any dissenting views are the product of some intellectual shortcoming or profound level of ignorance. Stick up for what you believe in, but don’t be fooled into thinking that your way of thinking is the only possible way of viewing the world.