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On idealism and change

As I’m watching fragments from a Roger Waters concert at a friend’s home, I’m thinking about a topic which I long wanted to write about:

There is such a thing as naïve idealism, but in the case of what I would call true idealists one could hardly say they have their heads in their clouds and don’t really know how the world works. On the contrary, it seems to me that true idealism involves a high degree of lucidity and a profound understanding of reality, of true reality. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the others who are hallucinating. (I’m entering tricky territory here because who’s to say what true reality is? But at the same time I had enough of that certain all-pervasive superficial type of relativism which is way too often used as an excuse for lack of responsibility, lack of awareness, or plain stupidity.)

And if true idealists really have their heads in the clouds, their feet are at the same time firmly planted on the ground, a combination which for me lies at the core of what it means to be wholly human. The lucidity that I was talking about above involves a real understanding of what life is about and how it works. We have grown way too accustomed to sickness to see this, but idealism is, in a sense, nothing more than normality – the healthy, unpoliticized type of normality, which entails a deep understanding and connection to life, reality, and beingness.

If many disregard some solutions as “unrealistic” or “impossible” it’s not always because they are so, but often because they prefer to choose other, in a way easier solutions (easier in the short run, damaging or at least ineffective in the long run.) If some solutions don’t work, it is sometimes because they haven’t been tried for real, for a variety of reasons. It is no surprise, then, that revolutions as we know them pretty much often fail – it cannot be otherwise and a mere familiarization with the tenets of Jungian psychology (among other things) makes this point very clear.

It takes courage to be an idealist and once again I’m thinking about Waters, about what it means to keep fighting for the same old causes, decade after decade, steadily and relentlessly, to be driven by what your heart and the core of your being know is true in spite of all the madness and the seeming futility of it all. Burning with the same ideals, the same fundamental values – because trends, eras, currents, and regimes come and go, but the essence of existence and humanity stays the same, unshaken and undeceived. (Then again, one might argue that the concept of an essence of humanity is itself a construct, or at least that it changes from era to era – I guess this would be the position of a Foucauldian, but I don’t really care. I cannot and do not want to walk another path than my own.) In the end, it is actually less important whether the project succeeds, it is first and foremost that burning fire in your hearts which counts and makes an existential difference. (Two quotes come to mind. The first one by Jean-Luc Godard: “And even if nothing turned out how we’d hoped, it would not have changed what we’d hoped for.” And another one by Jung: “The fact that a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing. He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths.”)

It is, I believe, also thanks to the true idealists, that the world isn’t even worse off than it is.

[And yet, I cannot help thinking about the concept of yugas (great time cycles) in Eastern metaphysics: it involves the fact that existence (and history) is cyclical (one darker era is followed by a more enlightened one and so on), that there is some sort of law of the universe in this sense, which throws a different light on the idea of change and how/why it happens. If anything, it seemingly proposes a rather passive/resigned approach to life, but I actually find that this is only a superficial understanding of the theory, which in no way denies the possibility of change, evolution, free will, and the realization of one’s potential. Long discussion, though.]