A few weeks ago American president Barack Obama addressed graduating students at the University of California at Irving and spoke some powerful words of wisdom for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. Part of his speech said:
“This new generation of scientists and advocates and entrepreneurs and altruists–you’re the antidote to cynicism. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to get down sometimes. You will. You’ll know disillusionment. You’ll experience doubt. People will disappoint you by their actions. But that can’t discourage you. Cynicism has never won a war or cured a disease or started a business or fed a young mind or sent men into space. Cynicism is a choice. Hope is a better choice.”
Cynicism is defined by one dictionary asan inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest. Or skepticism. (Merriam –Webster: believing that people are generally selfish and dishonest. An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professional motives of others).
Cynicism can manifest itself by frustration, disillusionment and distrust in regards to organizations, authorities, and other aspects of society due to previous bad experiences. Cynics often view others as motivated solely by disguised self-interest.
In 1969 historian and aesthetician Sir Kenneth Clark wrote: “It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilization. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs.”
Most professionals advise that, although cynicism can be a personal defense mechanism whereby people prevent opening themselves up to love and friendship to avoid being hurt, or it could be a result of past traumatic experiences, it is generally a negative trait and builds destructive emotions.
This negativity can be countered by replacing cynicism with positive thoughts. Even though there are many things that cause endless worries today, there are also lots of good things that we can be happy about. The Bible urges us at Colossians 3:15 to “always be thankful.”
Fortunately cynicism is a mindset, not a permanent affliction and can therefore be changed. If we all work towards developing positive attitudes and building hope, we will make a difference. After all nothing lasts forever; even tough times, just like seasons, come to pass. It is time to dream big and start accelerating our growth, rather than getting bogged down by temporary distractions.
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