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OPINION

The rise of the cynic

I have been political since I was about 13 years old. My politics tend to be on the centre-right of the political spectrum, which of course makes me a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, narrow-minded racist who is afraid of change and anything different. Worse, I am white and male! AKA: the oppressor; responsible for every evil and ill there has ever been or will be. Charming description is it not?

My politics were arrived at through my life experiences, deep reflection and being widely read (although I could certainly afford to read more, especially in those opinions I do not share). My beliefs are at odds with many in my family, but generations do tend to rebel against those before them. Yet my views were not borne out of rebellion.

I certainly have strong opinions and can get heated towards those who have different views, but I try my damnedest to keep this from being my defacto position. I would rather try to empathise with opposing views before arguing against them. Yet people will still have different opinions, and the more ideas in the marketplace the better we will be able to sort the good from the bad. So long as we can understand where one another is coming from – empathise – then to each their own.


“My politics are centre-right, which of course makes me a Bible-thumping, gun-toting, narrow-minded racist who is afraid of change and anything different. Worse, I am white and male!”


Yet, increasingly, if people disagree with each other (which, you know, is going to happen regularly) then all traces of humility go out the window. Worse, even the most innocuous of issues becomes a matter of life and death. So much so, we defend out positions at all costs and revile our opponents with vitriol and anger. Of course, we are on the ‘good’ side and the ends justify the means. Me good, you bad!

What is most surprising about all of this is it is nothing new. Rather, it is human nature; the tribal, animalistic side of us we like to think has been tempered by the trappings of civilisation. Despite all of our advances – social and political – those instincts still beat deeply in our hearts.

If we could leave to other planets or fortify separate countries across the world, then you might think we could just let live. Yet, for now, we are stuck on this planet; and history shows we would still manage to find a way to kill each other.

However, a civil society cannot function well for long when one side demonises the other with vitriol to the point of animosity. Where every issue, no matter how slight, is an affront to their orthodoxy.


“For in my heart and naiveté, I am eternally optimistic humanity will be able to solve its problems (and create new ones).”


Debates are no longer civil, but reduced to childish name calling befitting a school playground rather than a supposedly adult conversation.

Do not mistake me for a cynic or pessimist though despite my misgivings and grim outlooks on human nature. For in my heart and naiveté, I am eternally optimistic humanity will be able to solve its problems (and create new ones). We will make mistakes, to be sure, but we are the sum of our experiences – both the good and the bad; this makes us who we are today.

More importantly, even if all the evidence says one thing, human beings can always change their minds at the last second; nothing is immutable. Free will, baby!

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