"We have overwhelming numbers. If we worked together we would win. Why aren’t we? A large reason that we are failing is that people are copping out by adopting a cynical attitude. Many of us pretend that we are too smart to think anything can change. Too smart to get emotionally involved in the destruction of our prosperity or our liberties.
“A cynic is a coward. Cynicism always takes the easy way out. It is a form of laziness that provides someone with an excuse for not making any attempt to change the world. Cynicism is a way to hide. Cynics are afraid. So, instead, they pass judgment on anyone who is trying to make a difference. They ridicule the efforts of individuals and organizations that are working hard under incredibly difficult circumstances. Being cynical is often thought of as being composed and detached. It is considered to be a sign of sophistication. Cynics are mistakenly given credit for possessing a deep awareness regarding the limits of what humans can accomplish which is somehow lacking in those who spend their time in passionate efforts to change the world. Being filled with cynicism is indeed a cowardly and sad way to go through life. ” - Michael Crawley
We’ve previously noted: The ironic thing is that if all of the people who think of themselves as cynics or skeptics made noise, things would instantly change for the better. In other words, the millions upon millions of cynics/skeptics/self-described “realists” aren’t raising a ruckus against the fraud being committed by the giant banks, the corruption of our political system, or the lawlessness and imperial arrogance of our military-industrial complex because they think things can’t change. But by staying silent, they are actually creating the conditions in which nothing can change.
If the millions of cynics woke up to the fact that they are a huge group - especially when combined with the people who are already actively working for the restoration of a democratic republic, justice, and the rule of law - they would suddenly realize that collectively we can change things in a heart beat. Skepticism, cynicism and “realism” is an act of fear, of cowardice, of apathy. Because if the skeptics just got off their backsides and made some noise, things would change.
The Real Hero Fights Without Knowing Whether Or Not He’ll Succeed: The optimist - whether a person of faith or plain old positive temperament – is sure that he’ll succeed. The pessimist - i.e. the cynic - is sure he’ll fail. But the truth is that we never know in advance whether we’ll win or not. We’ve previously noted: How do we know if what we’re doing will really have an effect or not? How do we know if we are being called upon to struggle in order to succeed in changing things for the better, or for the heck of it?
We are called upon as part of our core purpose to struggle to try to make the world a better place. But we are not privy to fruits of our actions. We are not granted a view of the future, we will never know how many people we will help, and how we will change the course of history. We are called upon to struggle, but we can never know the end result of our efforts. That is not for us mere mortals to know. Chris Hedges - the Pulitizer-prize winning reporter who challenged the indefinite detention law and amazingly succeeded against all odds in having a judge strike down that law, saying: "None of us thought we would win."
Another judge - amazingly - halted all nuclear construction and licenses until disposal risks are addressed. They didn’t know until they tried whether or not they could win. And - even if we lose the immediate battle - we will help win a long-term war. Specifically - as bad as things are (and yes, we know things are getting worse) - they would be much worse if millions of people worldwide hadn’t struggled. As Hedges writes: "The battles that must be fought may never be won in our lifetime. And there will always be new battles to define our struggle. Resistance to tyranny and evil is never ending."
So how can we fight not knowing whether we’ll succeed? F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." Hellen Keller pointed out: "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing." And Czech leader Vaclav Havel said: "Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out."
Go Viral - It’s Contagious: Courage is contagious (and as scared as we may be of the powers-that-be, they're terrified of us as well.) So is the ability to think. As we’ve previously noted: "Studies show that even one dissenting voice can give people permission to think for themselves. Specifically: Solomon Asch, with experiments originally carried out in the 1950s and well-replicated since, highlighted a phenomenon now known as “conformity”. In the classic experiment, a subject sees a puzzle like the one in the below diagram: Which of the lines A, B, and C is the same size as the line X? Take a moment to determine your own answer. The gotcha is that the subject is seated alongside a number of other people looking at the diagram - seemingly other subjects, actually confederates of the experimenter. The other “subjects” in the experiment, one after the other, say that line C seems to be the same size as X. The real subject is seated next-to-last. How many people, placed in this situation, would say “C” - giving an obviously incorrect answer that agrees with the unanimous answer of the other subjects? What do you think the percentage would be?
Three-quarters of the subjects in Asch’s experiment gave a “conforming” answer at least once. A third of the subjects conformed more than half the time. Get it so far? People tend to defer to what the herd thinks. But here’s the good news: Adding a single dissenter - just one other person who gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that’s different from the group’s incorrect answer - reduces conformity very sharply, down to 5-10%. Why is this important? Well, it means that one person who publicly speaks the truth can sway a group of people away from group-think. If a group of people is leaning towards believing the government’s version of events, a single person who speaks the truth can help snap the group out of its trance.
There is an important point here regarding the web, as well. The above-cited article states that: When subjects can respond in a way that will not be seen by the group, conformity also drops.What does that mean? Well, on the web, many people post anonymously. The anonymity gives people permission to “respond in a way that will not be seen by the group.” But most Americans still don’t get their news from the web, or only go to mainstream corporate news sites. Away from the keyboard, we are not very anonymous. So that is where the conformity dynamic - and the need for courageous dissent - is vital. It is doubly important that we apply the same hard-hitting truth telling we do on the Internet in our face-to-face interactions; because it is there that dissent is urgently needed.
Bottom line: Each person‘s voice has the power to snap entire groups out of their coma of irrational group-think. So go forth and be a light of rationality and truth among the sleeping masses. And a recent study shows that when only 10% of a population have strongly-held beliefs, their belief will often be adopted by the majority of the society. This is true of soldiers as well as civilians. Indeed, if the soldiers, sailors, seals, flyboys, intel operatives and law enforcement officers wake up to what is really happening, things would change overnight.
Some historical quotes may be helpful in illustrating the importance of struggling to make things better:
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
"We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before; and it changed for the better; so I trust it will again. If difficulties arise; we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times." - George Washington
"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can change the course of history." - Sonia Johnson
"Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
"Hope has never trickled down. It has always sprung up." - Studs Terkel
"At certain points in history, the energy level of people, the indignation level of people rises. And at that point it becomes possible for people to organize and to agitate and to educate one another, and to create an atmosphere in which the government must do something." - Howard Zinn
"There is no act too small, no act too bold. The history of social change is the history of millions of actions, small and large, coming together at points in history and creating a power that governments cannot suppress." - Howard Zinn