Category Archives: Food for Thought

Cynicism and Goodness

cynicism [sĭn′ĭ-sĭz″əm]
noun 1: An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others. 2: A scornfully or jadedly negative comment or act. 3: The beliefs of the ancient Cynics.

It is easy to get cynicism and skepticism confused. In fact, they sometimes get used interchangeably. However, they are not interchangeable. Cynicism is a posture or attitude toward life. Skepticism is an intellectual activity in which one weighs the evidence and says, “I’ve got some doubts.”

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I can only imbibe a certain amount of television “news,” especially the kind that daily serves up the same brew even though it is poured out in different kinds of cups. After I got over the novelty of the “Yellowstone” mug and the “I’m allergic to morning mug,” I realized it was still the same drink every time.

I discovered that the monotonous diet was producing in me a huge sense of despondency and resignation. Hopelessness even.

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Normally, when I think about “attitude,” my thoughts go to how a person behaves. For example, a student that “smarts off” to his/her high school algebra teacher has a bad attitude. But when I use “attitude” in that way I generally do not think about how it might be controlled by other factors. I think of attitude as something that is independent and exclusive to that student at that moment.

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Jesus said it. Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. It is perhaps one of his hardest commands to us. We human beings are little judging machines, mostly because we want a way to assess the human being we just met for the first time or have grown annoyed with or that simply makes us have to work hard in the relationship business.

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Many team building workshops inevitably include what is called a “trust fall.” A participant with her back to her group members places her crossed arms on her chest and falls backward. The goal of this exercise is to demonstrate what trust looks and feels like.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines trust in this way: to believe that someone is good and honest and will not harm you, or that something is safe and reliable. This is at the heart of the biblical word, “believe.” It’s actually “trust.” In other words, if I “believe” Jesus, I place my life and my future in Jesus’ hands. It’s a trust fall.

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