Realism or Idealism?

Why Realists Operate out of Fear, Idealists out of Hope

That’s the way it is. We must accept reality.

These words come up often during conversations about certain aspects of life that I struggle to comprehend the need for their existence. The person on the other end of said conversation will say these words to me in an effort to quell my indignation at certain “realities” that exist in this world, but it’s hopeless because their shrug is the foundation that these issues exist upon.

I used to be a realist. Interestingly, I was a realist during my worst of struggles. With addiction, with my self-destructive behaviors, with my socio-economic standing, they were all poor and I laid the blame at my own feet. It was only when I gained what could be considered a modicum of “success” that I began realizing that my “realist” attitude was holding me back, and that progress is made only by idealists demanding change. I was running my head into a brick wall at full speed because I was at odds with societal standards — I wanted change but knew only how to alienate myself.

I looked at crime data and pointed at that as the “reality” that warranted broken windows policing. Rather than viewing it as the potential cause of further misleading statistics, and both have their play, I often argued that what is real must not be ignored.

I thought I had a brilliant idea when arguing that women should embrace their disadvantaged pay relative to men in order to turn it into an advantage. My thoughts were that if one could accept the disadvantage now and disrupt the norms from within that dividends would be paid in the end to all. After all, creating change is easier from the inside than outside. But that ignored another reality, that dividends aren’t paid often, they’re just promised often.

I assumed that those who were poor, including myself, were at fault. We hadn’t worked hard enough, we hadn’t applied ourselves, we just simply weren’t worthy of the riches that adorned others. This certainly felt as if it applied to myself because I lacked what I believed to be motivation, I did not apply myself and thus I was not rewarded. Yet, millions others played the game the way they were told to do, they worked hard and they worked well, they put their blood, sweat, and tears into mostly fruitless labor. Unrewarded for their motivation, their hard work, and their creating — the fruit funneled to the fruitful, the fruitless tossed a rind on occasion.

During these last few years I’ve come to realize, undoubtedly, that realists view the world from a position of fear. Fear that change will negatively impact their standing, fear that things exist because they must and not because they’re forced. There is always a chance that change could beget negative results, but positive results are impossible without it. And the existence of something does not make it necessary or willful.

I no longer play the games that society attempts to dictate for me. Men and women hold no valuable position in life relative to one another, we are all just humans who will one day no longer exist — why give someone false power, placing yourself below them for this scant amount of time? Your boss, his boss, the CEO, they’re just people who hold a title that we value but do not themselves own such value. They’re just like you, stop giving them their power.

The people, the workers who churn the GDP, own this country. We control the labor force because we are the labor force. The inequality we face in this country is rooted in capitalism and yet we view it as the “reality” that must exist. It does not need to exist, we can force this change. We are working our asses off at the glimmer of hope of exorbitant success, that will not come for 99.9999% of us, while those already swimming in riches are reaping the benefits of our hard work. Hence the narrative, work hard and success will come. Under this pretense they drive up production, give out a little, and collect a lot. And we never even realize it until it’s too late — by the time we realized we’ve wasted our life toiling for someone else’s benefit we’re in over our heads, our consumerism taking over our conscious.

We should chase what we really want, not what we’re told we should have. Do not be afraid if it goes against the grain, the grain is only smooth on one side because the sheep do not rise up against transgressions. If you’re operating on the other side of normal you’re probably in the right. If you cave on your principles because the current reality doesn’t recognize it you do not deserve the benefits of change.

Your idealistic expectations can never become the new reality without diligence and a hell of a backbone. Progress has never been achieved by accepting the current status quo.