Cynicism and Finding Balance

Kristin 1 Kristin 2

If you fancy movies, you might have heard of Charlie Sheen. He once told us that, “the best way to not get your heart broken is pretending you don’t have one.” We certainly deal with a LOT of issues in this planet and disillusionment should come easy if we do not have the drive to be motivated and put our hopes on something bigger. To prove a point, take this scenario of somebody I know:

  • She and her siblings were orphaned at a young age.
  • Because of this, she ended up living with a foster family, apart from her siblings.
  • She discovered her talent for painting, but had to give it up in order to focus on the family she had started at a young age.
  • Upon finding out about her pregnancy, she moved out, stopped studying, and without a degree, opted for domestic jobs – even serving as a domestic helper in foreign countries and enduring some forms of mistreatment – just so she could send back money to her growing family.
  • The man she had married turned out to cause her great struggles.
  • Now she is separated from her loved ones, but is still actively looking for ways to bring food to the table.

Abandonment, loneliness, poverty and abuse – a situation like this may be too much to handle for many people. It is not surprising if it leads people into becoming cynics.

The thing with cynicism is that it works and spreads like wildfire. It ends up confusing people, if not destroying their optimism. But acknowledging this problem is not enough.

We need to challenge ourselves not to be caught in its trap and attain freedom from any kind of indifference towards people, life and the world. In the case of my friend, she still continues to persevere, finding salvation in her main life motivation: her children. In one of our conversations she told me that “the whole point of my existence now revolves around my children. Without them, there would be no point in living anymore.”

There are a lot of good things out there. Each of us has stories to tell, and it is important that we recognize the fact that we are not the only ones who are dealing with problems, so we should be sensitive enough about others’ conditions. That way, we can understand people better, and we will gain deeper knowledge about the human experience which we can use to help one another. After all, as cliché as it may sound, “no man is an island.”

George Weigel imparted an important lesson to us by saying that there are two ideas of freedom. There is freedom of indifference (willfulness) and the freedom for excellence (freedom where we can “pledge our lives, fortunes and honor”). Basically, if we choose to challenge the former with the latter, we can attain balance from dealing with the positive and negative aspects of life – similar to how we sometimes sacrifice things for the sake of other people, and like how my friend still keeps on fighting for her children.

In the same way, if cynicism is the poison, then sensitivity and openness is the antidote. We must learn this to fight the problem, and in Michael Jackson’s song, contribute to “heal the world and make it a better place.”

The choice is always up to us.



By Tin Baltazar, a regional intern at the WYA Asia Pacific office. Freedome is a concept that is very strongly linked to human dignity. WYA believes understanding freedom is so important and a whole chapter is dedicated to this concept in the WYA Track A training. To learn more about the training, click here.