My husband, co-worker and I have had a few conversations recently about how cranky we feel toward the world. We’ve been grousing about situations that aren’t quite working right on the local, state and national level, wanting desperately to help fix some of these situations or put the right people into positions so that they can fix them. “Fixing” them meaning to create situations that allow the majority of people to live in relative peace and prosperity without having to fight quite so hard just to survive.
As it stands, it appears that the people who have all the power want to keep that power to themselves for their own gain. To heck with the rest of us hoi polloi. We can see the political maneuvering (not just in politics, mind you) to game the system and it makes us angry.
We’re all in our late 40s, so smack in middle age, and we’ve lost our youthful idealism. (I just had another friend about our age say that he, too, is often cynical.) We’ve experienced too much of the world, including how difficult it is to affect change because of the imbalance in power, and we’re frustrated.
I was talking about this cynicism with another friend, someone who is a little older than I am. She said that things are different now, far more contentious and polarized than they have ever been in her life. Her comments indicate that some of this cynicism is justified and it may not be related to being middle aged.
Do we want to be cynical? Heck no. It wouldn’t take much to make us less cynical. Having even a few situations resolved in a fair and transparent manner would help. Watching the power players being called out and/or held accountable for their manipulation of the system would also alleviate some of our cynicism. (A hopeful sign is having Bernie Sanders throw his hat in the presidential ring. He’s a defender of the masses.)
Lest you’re tempted to tell me to “Lighten up, be thankful, stay positive, don’t give in to cynicism,” Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh would suggest allowing me to feel what I feel, to be mindful of it. Discussing my cynicism allows me to figure out exactly what’s bothering me about the state of the world and to find ways to work around what I can’t personally change. Ignoring the cynicism makes it grow. (See Thich Nhat Hanh’s discussion on dealing with anger in “Together We Are One,” pages 92-96.)
Knowing I’m not alone in my middle-aged cynicism also helps.
How about you? Are you feeling cynical about the world (no matter what your age)? What can we do about it?