In defence of idealism (in politics)
JULY 17 — I am all too aware that the general tone of what I write usually comes off as idealistic. Many a time, I speak of values and hopes for a society. Often, this comes off as having no tangible weight because people have this perception that what I say operates in a vacuum.
I cannot help it; to me, the world has potential to be better than it is because humanity has a knack of coming together in times of desperation and great need. The way I see things, there is great hope for great change. This is what gives me my belief that idealism is the main driver for substantial change. All this I have observed in my short 20 years of existence.
Having said that, idealism is commonly misunderstood to be synonymous with naïvety, that an idealistic person lacks a keen sense of reality when that may not even be the case.
Idealism is not an illusion, it is a goal. It is a point of perfection that we are all aiming for. In some ways, all of us have romantic idealism. The difference is that it is more pronounced in some than others. This is not to say that idealists are unaware of the harsh realities that are present; more often than not they are keenly aware of them.
Idealists are the movers and changers of society. Instead of whining about situations, they realise the severity of their situation and strive to get out of it. They focus on the end point and realise that there is a possibility of actually reaching that point. And for that, they keep dreaming.
How ideals relate to politics
The Malaysian political arena, as we know, is experiencing an extremely volatile period. With GE13 looming, tensions are high everywhere. Many are caught up in the PR-BN tussle. With this, ideals are extremely necessary for politics.
Ideals should take priority over political affiliation, simply because ideals are constant but political parties are not. If you have ideals, you know what you want and you can always choose to vote for a party based on what you want or need. As voters, this is how we can move above and beyond partisanship. We should champion values and ideas, instead of political parties, the way Bersih does.
Because what happens if PR too fails to bring about the desired change? What happens then? Do you remain jaded or do you still press on?
Take Aung San Suu Kyi, for example. If it were not for her strong belief in the ideals of democracy and human rights, it would be almost impossible to imagine how she could have survived the injustice thrown her way.
Shall we throw in a few more idealists? Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and how about… all the people behind the Arab Spring? Ideals drove all these people to bring more adamant, more deliberate change in a time where cynicism towards their actions was rife.
Answering “The Cynics”
But, of course, we all know that convincing cynics is easier said than done.
Many would dismiss idealistic prose as pure rhetoric. And the most common response? Cynicism, from the jaded majority. Their position is completely understandable though.
These are the ones who have been bruised and scared by injustices hurled at them, decade after decade. Idealistic pieces were never meant to bring anything new to the table but, instead, serve as a reminder to the cynical that it is not entirely doom and gloom.
But because of that, the necessity of idealism is there. That no matter what happens, there will be people who believe in change and will strive for it in the long run.
So when I am critical about political parties and expound more on ideals, I am not doing it because I am silly or have not read the other side of the argument. I know all too well, as you do, the extent of the mishaps and scandals. In this article, just as in my last, I urge you to think beyond a party and to focus more on values and ideals instead.
* If it isn’t already obvious, Adelyn is somewhat of an idealist.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.