Don't Be Cool

The Shaming of Idealists

The Shaming of Idealists

“Idealism Shaming” is a thing.

It’s a phenomenon in which those who think of themselves as realists (or rational, or practical, or analytical) criticize or belittle those who espouse a world vision in which greater peace, justice, love and understanding dominate. While we celebrate King or Gandhi or Mandela or Malala or Suu Kyi, they are treated as exceptions for their bravery, while many ‘everyday idealists’ are dismissed as naive, new age, lightweight, utopian, pollyanna, or just plain unintelligent. Especially by those with a combative worldview or those who are invested in conflict.

I’ve been working in technology for decades, and it’s getting more and more powerful, accelerating in capacity and independence. Machine vision, emotion recognition, artificial intelligence, robotics, genomics — wow, it is all happening so fast.  Technology can go both ways for us as a species — it helps us cure rare diseases and generate energy through new methods, while at the same time it’s damaging the oceans and enabling mass murderers.  In other words, our tools have no moral compass, they will be used to serve and amplify the spiritual state of humankind — in Brussels or Lahore, New York or San Jose.  In the current spiritual state, we need to regulate the tools.

The more powerful our technologies and tools become, the greater the urgency for us to have concurrent spiritual development.

We have never before seen so clearly and immediately the impact of our divisions; the incredible suffering that fear, posturing, othering, labeling and hate produce in the world. That old way? That’s just not working.

We’re going to need a lot of psycho-social-emotional skills to meet these divisions with our eyes wide open and counteract them. Profound love and wisdom. A lot of spiritual bravery. AND every possible voice to be an instrument in improvising and navigating a collective shift away from anger, separation and violence toward profound interconnection.

You are the instrument

You know that part of you that is still seven, or eight or nine years old? The part that loves belonging, acceptance, play, creation, joy, making, figuring things out, connection, joining, investigating — the part that knows wonder first hand?

When that part is coming up, please let it come! Want it. Name it. Desire it. For yourself. For your friends and kids and neighbors. For everyone. Be an idealist.  Let it drive your actions.  Let it propel you.  Don’t be cool.

If the self-proclaimed realists of this world want to label you a fool — you can name it. Call it what it is: Idealism Shaming.

Then go on and be a brilliant fool in the service of this planet and all of humankind, for a better way of living together. You are the instrument. I am the instrument. We are the instruments.


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