It’s Somebody Else’s Fault

 

Cynics are lapsed idealists. They began with great expectations. Then they discover that life is not easy, that things do not go as we hoped they would. Our efforts hit obstacles. Our plans are derailed. We do not receive the recognition or honour we think we deserve. So we retreat into ourselves. We blame others for our failures, and we focus on the failings of others. We tell ourselves we could have done better.  –Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

When we don’t get our way, especially when we think our goals are righteous and honorable, we can feel betrayed. In a sense, our being born on this earth entitles us to dreams transformed into reality, and ideals actualized in our day-to-day life.

Anyone can be victim to this mentality, and the assumptions and conclusions that ensue. But I believe that people who mature, who learn the difficult lessons of life, realize that we can experience both blessings and disappointments. We can learn from our disappointments to ascertain our limitations, errors, or roadblocks. And then we can decide on the other efforts we can pursue to make our own lives, or the lives of others, happier and richer.

I’ve been contemplating how this quotation may be a very insightful way to describe the political Left. Aren’t they often disappointed by reality? Don’t they feel helpless in the face of difficulties and roadblocks? And instead of figuring out a creative and productive way to meet their goals, they get stuck in blaming others for their losses. They also double down on their idealism, trying harder than before: if they only call out those who try to stop them; if they only steal what they need to be successful; if they only destroy others who don’t share their dreams and goals—they will fulfill their ideals. I think underneath their hopes is a tragic cynicism that feeds their demands and needs. And they just push harder.

What a depraved way to live one’s life.

[photo by Anh Nguyen on unsplash.com]

Published in Group Writing
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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Conservatives are also vulnerable to this state of mind: it’s tempting to become preoccupied with assigning blame and not acting (which is what Congress does a great deal). Instead of being mired in misery, we have to force ourselves to take action, to speak up, to take risks and engage possibility. 

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Thought provoking post.  Thanks.

    • #2
  3. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Rabbi Sacks seems really wise.  The quote starts out talking about them and winds up talking about us.  

    I think there is a little idealist, a little cynic, a little left even in all of us and there is a little right in those people over there.   Is it what we’re born with, community, environment, experiences good and bad, or maybe all and then some.  I’ve noticed there is a natural drift toward the left as life doesn’t unfold the way it is thought it should, maybe.  And sometimes there’s a running, a screaming back toward the right when the realization sets in of the surroundings.  I suppose there is always hope. 

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
      I’ve noticed there is a natural drift toward the left as life doesn’t unfold the way it is thought it should, maybe.  And sometimes there’s a running, a screaming back toward the right when the realization sets in of the surroundings.  I suppose there is always hope. 

    I think there is always hope. But I think many of us have found our hope has become weakened over time, as the polarization and demonization grows. That’s precisely what the Far Left has planned on. I think we need to continue to work hard at getting our message out.

    You’ve just intrigued me with your comment, Lawst. So many people did eventually come back to the Right after they realized they were being betrayed by the Left. I think that drift Right has been greatly reduced; I wonder if it’s one key reason or several. Any thoughts?

    • #4
  5. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Lawst N. Thawt (View Comment):
    I’ve noticed there is a natural drift toward the left as life doesn’t unfold the way it is thought it should, maybe. And sometimes there’s a running, a screaming back toward the right when the realization sets in of the surroundings. I suppose there is always hope.

    I think there is always hope. But I think many of us have found our hope has become weakened over time, as the polarization and demonization grows. That’s precisely what the Far Left has planned on. I think we need to continue to work hard at getting our message out.

    You’ve just intrigued me with your comment, Lawst. So many people did eventually come back to the Right after they realized they were being betrayed by the Left. I think that drift Right has been greatly reduced; I wonder if it’s one key reason or several. Any thoughts?

    We have the truth on our side.  Not 100% every one of us all the time, but in general, what we believe works because it is founded in the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.   It is only when we stray away from these self-evident truths that we fail.   I’ve noticed it seems to me we get dragged into playing their game.  What’s the old saying about wrestling with pigs?  

    • #5
  6. Lawst N. Thawt Coolidge
    Lawst N. Thawt
    @LawstNThawt

    What makes this country work the way it should is a bottom-up, power of the people, governing.  We have developed the false notion that we need a king.  Does this sound familiar?  The US does not need a strong president.  The US needs strong people, which I think we are, we just sometimes forget.  What we need, I think these days, is more people to grasp the fundamentals, so they can spot stupid on a ballot. 

    • #6
  7. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    Building sand castles daily then wading into the surf to command the tide not to come in does tend to frustrate those who cannot learn from history. Nay; he think history has no lessons. 

    • #7
  8. Mark Alexander Coolidge
    Mark Alexander
    @MarkAlexander

    Are you talking about me?

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Are you talking about me?

    Who are you asking?

    • #9
  10. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Alexander (View Comment):

    Are you talking about me?

    Who are you asking?

    I think Mark was asking that empty whiskey bottle up there. : )

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Ahhhhhhhhhhh….. ;-)

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Susan Quinn: Cynics are lapsed idealists. They began with great expectations. Then they discover that life is not easy, that things do not go as we hoped they would. Our efforts hit obstacles. Our plans are derailed. We do not receive the recognition or honour we think we deserve. So we retreat into ourselves. We blame others for our failures, and we focus on the failings of others. We tell ourselves we could have done better.  –Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

    Not me.  I’m a cycnic, but not because of my own failures, which I acknowledge are all on me.  I’m cynical about the failures of others, of people who claim to have all the answers.  When those answers manifest themselves into solutions and fail, they are the ones who blame others – “Republicans fought against our plan” or “We need more funding.”  My favorite is about why socialism has always failed: “The wrong people were in charge.”  Yeah, like they are the right people.

    Idealism is okay, but folks need to realize that idealism – like perfection – is impossible to achieve in practice.  But when you strive for perfection, you achieve excellence.  Likewise, if you strive for your ideals, you lead to better solutions and outcomes.  They won’t be perfect, but they get the job done.  Republicans need to realize this, especially never-Trumpers.  You can take on the enemy with class like Reagan, or with fire and brimstone like Trump.  But for goodness sakes, fight the enemy . . .

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Stad (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Cynics are lapsed idealists. They began with great expectations. Then they discover that life is not easy, that things do not go as we hoped they would. Our efforts hit obstacles. Our plans are derailed. We do not receive the recognition or honour we think we deserve. So we retreat into ourselves. We blame others for our failures, and we focus on the failings of others. We tell ourselves we could have done better. –Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks

    Not me. I’m a cycnic, but not because of my own failures, which I ackwnowledge are all on me. I’m cynical about the failures of others, of people who claim to have all the answers. When those answers manifest themselves into solutions and fail, they are the ones who blame others – “Republicans fought against our plan” or “We need more funding.” My favorite is about why socialism has always failed: “The wrong people were in charge.” Yeah, like they are the right people.

    Idealism is okay, but folks need to realize that idealism – like perfection – is impossible to achieve in practice. But when you strive for perfection, you achieve excellence. Likewise, if you strive for your ideals, you lead to better solutions and outcomes. They won’t be perfect, but they get the job done. Republicans need to realize this, especially never-Trumpers. You can take on the enemy with class like Reagan, or with fire and brimstone like Trump. But for goodness sakes, fight the enemy . . .

    They tell us “the wrong people were in charge” then attempt the same thing without producing better people.

    I’m not being cynical, just observant.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Stad (View Comment):
    Idealism is okay, but folks need to realize that idealism – like perfection – is impossible to achieve in practice.  But when you strive for perfection, you achieve excellence.  Likewise, if you strive for your ideals, you lead to better solutions and outcomes.

    It’s a tough thing to do. If you strive for the perfect or the ideal, you can really drive yourself and others crazy, if you’re not willing to accept the excellent. My husband and I would discuss this all the time, because he would sometimes get trapped by striving for the perfect (which is impossible). I prefer to strive for excellence, and I have a better chance of being successful, @stad.

    • #14
  15. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Percival (View Comment):
    then attempt the same thing without producing better people.

    Ah, but they are trying to perfect us.  For our own good, you understand . . .

    • #15
  16. Chris Oler Coolidge
    Chris Oler
    @ChrisO

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Conservatives are also vulnerable to this state of mind: it’s tempting to become preoccupied with assigning blame and not acting

    Isn’t this what Ricochet is about? I mean, if we didn’t use this as an outlet, how do you suppose we’d channel the anger and frustration? 

    I post here and feel a bit better, meanwhile local school boards are mulling the ban of public comments on their business. What?!

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Chris Oler (View Comment):
    Isn’t this what Ricochet is about? I mean, if we didn’t use this as an outlet, how do you suppose we’d channel the anger and frustration? 

    I agree, @chrisoler. We all need to vent! But we can’t let ourselves get stuck in venting and think that’s the same as taking action.

    • #17
  18. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Building sand castles daily then wading into the surf to command the tide not to come in does tend to frustrate those who cannot learn from history. Nay; he think history has no lessons.

    Poor old Canute.  I rise (once again) to defend my erstwhile sovereign, between whom and Elizabeth II there have been only as many Kings and Queens of what became, and what’s now left of, the United Kingdom, as there have been Presidents of the United States (46).  That makes it relatively easy to keep them all straight.  Well, except for Edward II.

    The lesson to be taken from Canute’s paddle into the sea to command the tide, which has come to be synonymous with the folly of absolute monarchs asserting their supremacy over God, and as told by the closest thing we have to a contemporaneous account of the event (that of Henry of Huntingdon in his Historia Angelorum, written less than a century after Canute died in 1035) was originally as follows:

    … when he was at the height of his ascendancy, he ordered his chair to be placed on the sea-shore as the tide was coming in. Then he said to the rising tide, “You are subject to me, as the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has resisted my overlordship with impunity. I command you, therefore, not to rise on to my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or limbs of your master.” But the sea came up as usual, and disrespectfully drenched the king’s feet and shins. So jumping back, the king cried, “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws.” Thereafter King Cnut never wore the golden crown on his neck, but placed it on the image of the crucified Lord, in eternal praise of God the great king. By whose mercy may the soul of King Cnut enjoy rest.

    So the first, and almost-contemporaneous, account describes a Canute who’s tired of the fawning sycophancy of his nobles, and who decides to teach them a lesson and show them that even the power of kings is limited by eternal laws and divine providence.  Whether or not it’s a faithful depiction of his actions (Lord knows, contemporaneity with events is no guarantee of accuracy or fairness when it comes to news coverage–we see that every day), it was the story that was passed down for generations: Canute the Meek; Canute the Pious; Canute the Devout; Canute who hung up his crown on the crucifix and never wore it again after showing his courtiers that he, too, was mortal.

    Somewhere along the way, though, the story changed, and Canute became Canute the Deluded, Canute the Narcissist, and Canute the Megalomaniac.  (Don’t believe me, just Google “King Canute Donald Trump” for multitudinous, and multifarious comparisons. You’ll get the idea.)

    It matters less to me than it does to some whether I have a King or a President.  What matters to me is what that person, and that government and that structure does with the power invested in it, and how they wield it.  I’ve observed here before somewhere that it’s interesting (to me, anyway) that the only two rulers of Britain with the honorific “the Great” appended to their name (Canute and Alfred) are/were famous throughout history for stories about them that described the limits of their kingly power (Canute and the waves; Alfred and the cakes.)  We need to send more of those sorts of folks to represent us.

    Right now, I’d settle for more Canute and less Joe Biden.

    • #18
  19. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Absolutely right, She.

    She (View Comment):
    That makes it relatively easy to keep them all straight.  Well, except for Edward II.

    • #19
  20. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Percival (View Comment):

    Absolutely right, She.

    She (View Comment):
    That makes it relatively easy to keep them all straight. Well, except for Edward II.

    The perfect response, and what I’ve come to expect from you, @percival…

    • #20
  21. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Absolutely right, She.

    She (View Comment):
    That makes it relatively easy to keep them all straight. Well, except for Edward II.

    The perfect response, and what I’ve come to expect from you, @ percival…

    I also meant about the defense of Canute. You did it better than I would have done.

    • #21
  22. Rodin Member
    Rodin
    @Rodin

    She (View Comment):

     

    Poor old Canute. I rise (once again) to defend my erstwhile sovereign, between whom and Elizabeth II there have been only as many Kings and Queens of what became, and what’s now left of, the United Kingdom, as there have been Presidents of the United States (46). That makes it relatively easy to keep them all straight. Well, except for Edward II.

    The lesson to be taken from Canute’s paddle into the sea to command the tide, which has come to be synonymous with the folly of absolute monarchs asserting their supremacy over God, and as told by the closest thing we have to a contemporaneous account of the event (that of Henry of Huntingdon in his Historia Angelorum, written less than a century after Canute died in 1035) was originally as follows:

    … when he was at the height of his ascendancy, he ordered his chair to be placed on the sea-shore as the tide was coming in. Then he said to the rising tide, “You are subject to me, as the land on which I am sitting is mine, and no one has resisted my overlordship with impunity. I command you, therefore, not to rise on to my land, nor to presume to wet the clothing or limbs of your master.” But the sea came up as usual, and disrespectfully drenched the king’s feet and shins. So jumping back, the king cried, “Let all the world know that the power of kings is empty and worthless, and there is no king worthy of the name save Him by whose will heaven, earth and sea obey eternal laws.” Thereafter King Cnut never wore the golden crown on his neck, but placed it on the image of the crucified Lord, in eternal praise of God the great king. By whose mercy may the soul of King Cnut enjoy rest.

    So the first, and almost-contemporaneous, account describes a Canute who’s tired of the fawning sycophancy of his nobles, and who decides to teach them a lesson and show them that even the power of kings is limited by eternal laws and divine providence. Whether or not it’s a faithful depiction of his actions (Lord knows, contemporaneity with events is no guarantee of accuracy or fairness when it comes to news coverage–we see that every day), it was the story that was passed down for generations: Canute the Meek; Canute the Pious; Canute the Devout; Canute who hung up his crown on the crucifix and never wore it again after showing his courtiers that he, too, was mortal.

    Somewhere along the way, though, the story changed, and Canute became Canute the Deluded, Canute the Narcissist, and Canute the Megalomaniac. (Don’t believe me, just Google “King Canute Donald Trump” for multitudinous, and multifarious comparisons. You’ll get the idea.)

    ***

    Right now, I’d settle for more Canute and less Joe Biden.

    Thank you for that, @she. 

    • #22