It's very popular to be realistic these days. It doesn't matter where one is on the political spectrum or where one sits on the economic ladder, realism is a virtue to all. Being realistic is the grim task whereby one accepts the hard facts of mundane existence and adapts to them. The necessity of a life spent acquiring money is one of the hard facts of life. In politics, realism is the force that causes governments and movements to decide that circumstances dictate violence.
The last time that idealism had any popularity was probably in the sixties during the civil rights struggles of early Haight-Ashbury days There was a tremendous unity of feeling in this "Movement" among young people, but by the seventies only a shambles of conflicting factions and confusion about the future remained. People who participated in this movement, when measured by nearly any standard, invested a lot of energy and effort with very little concrete return. After a dozen years the same problems exist in the world, only they have multiplied. And there are many new difficulties as well. It is safe to say that until now the "Movement" as a political and cultural effort has failed.
People are in the habit of uniting around an ideal, but that's not enough. Immediately, many ideas spring up about how to apply it. What is needed is an ideal that includes its own method of application. It has been the question of method, rather than the original inspiration, that has subverted idealistic efforts. As soon as there are many ideas, there is conflict and disharmony. This happens constantly at business and in the home; in fact, in all areas of life.
Being practical is very important, but being "realistic" is impossible in a world where no one can agree on what is real. A colonel may think that getting a correct body count is practical while to someone in the peace movement, ending the killing is practical.
Another good example is the situation at the Stanford Research Institute where scientists were confronted with Uri Geller, the Israeli psychic, who is apparently capable of making solid objects vanish, and similar eye-blinking phenomena. Most of the scientists were convinced that no fraud was involved and are now faced with the fact that they must change their concept of the framework under which the laws of the
physical universe operate to include a way of explaining what Uri does. A scientist trying to be realistic suddenly finds that there is no longer any realism in his theories.
Congressmen, governors and other politicians share a basic conception of the domestic state of affairs. Then American Indians invade Wounded Knee and people aren't sure what century they're in. Perhaps it's not really that sudden, but events are moving faster than we can readjust our thinking to compensate for. This is partially responsible for the different ideas and perceptions of the world that are always sparking conflict in political and social areas.
Being practical is the only way to be realistic and being practical means finding a way to make idealism work. Anything less is a death sentence for the world. There's only one possible way that this can he done. It has to he a way whereby everyone has the same perception of both the ideal and the way to get there. Nothing less than a shared consciousness of what reality is will do.
The nature of reality is that there is only one of it. Dictionaries, religions and science arc beginning to agree on this: that reality is one thing, basic to existence. Concepts of reality, other "states" of reality, are only ideas and perceptions and cannot be shared by all.
People in the United States are depressed, especially young people. Not everyone. Some haven't yet been bitterly disappointed in the world and still cherish ideals others have found unworkable.
There are many causes for this depression, but the main one is that nothing has worked.
this world needs now a ripple of love
to run through all our hearts
and to unite them, to shiver off all worries
and leave us free to be unselfish.
This world needs now a stream of saints
nd one has come on earth to train us.
all hearts, if free, give off love endlessly …