Encouragement · Hope

Cynicism vs. Hope: Guest Post by Kelly

Meet Kelly! She is a fellow For the Love book launch team member, new friend, counselor, writer, speaker and teacher with a passion for the poor and hurting in her community. Read more about her passions and journey at www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com.

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Hi, my name is Kelly and I am a West Wing addict.

I have spent the last several months re-watching all 7 seasons of West Wing in my spare time. All 156 episodes. At approximately 45 minutes per episode, that means I have spent 117 hours in recent months watching West Wing. In all honesty, there is some likelihood that I have watched West Wing when I should have been doing something else…like interacting with actual human beings. I’ve heard binge watching Netflix is the hip new thing to do, so I blame peer pressure.

I am obsessed with West Wing to the degree that I am now stalking Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff and Allison Janney on Twitter in order to hang on a little longer. I’m in mourning, gentle reader, so please don’t judge.

All kidding aside, I have been thinking a great deal lately about the reasons for my West Wing addiction devotion. Beyond the intelligent writing, compelling characters and peek into the fascinating world of politics, I suspect I am drawn to this show because of the refreshing lack of cynicism.

I am so very, very tired of cynicism.

West Wing world believes that public service, in spite of the temptations and challenges, is an honorable calling. West Wing world believes that good people are drawn to service and sacrifice because they believe that one person, in partnership with other committed people, can make a difference and contribute to making the world a better, safer place of opportunity for all our citizens. Time after time on West Wing, when faced with the expediency of compromised integrity, the characters chose the high road and continued to pursue their goals through diplomacy, creativity, intelligence, hard work and cooperation. They didn’t win every battle, but they continued to believe what they were doing was worth the personal sacrifice for the greater good.

In a world where House of Cards and cable news shows paint a very different picture, West Wing reminds me of this Margaret Mead quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

In recent weeks, in light of a seeming epidemic of mass shootings, evidence of continued systemic racism and ongoing divisions within the church, I have been struggling not to fall prey to the easy surrender of cynicism. Cynicism says evil and hate are winning and there is nothing we can do about it. Cynicism says people can’t ever be trusted to do the right thing. Cynicism says that poverty, hunger, violence and oppression are just part of the world in which we live. Cynicism says that the government, the church and all other institutions of change are powerless in the face of the depravity, selfishness and hard hearts of humans. Cynicism says anyone who believes otherwise is naïve at best and possibly downright stupid. Cynicism says our only option is to put our heads down and protect our loved ones.

Cynicism lets us off the hook and absolves us of any responsibility to advocate for change.

I read this quote about cynicism recently:

“Cynicism is cheap and lazy-an escape hatch from both life and learning.  If patience leads to endurance and then on to hope, cynicism leads to, well, not much of anything except more cynicism. Cynicism is an existential cul de sac.”  Milton Brasher

As followers of Jesus, we simply cannot allow cynicism to win. Jesus spent His earthly ministry declaring that the Kingdom of God is near. His plan for bringing the Kingdom to earth involves our participation and the Kingdom of God has not yet fully arrived. We aren’t there yet. His band of followers took His message of love, selflessness, sacrifice and humility into the world, without the benefit of the internet or mass media, and now 2.9 billion people worldwide call themselves Christians. In spite of our best efforts to destroy the Church through doctrinal infighting and petty squabbles, I still have hope that people of faith can be part of the solution going forward. If we believe what Jesus says, we are called to be Light in the darkness. In the face of what often feels like a great deal of darkness, we better get busy.

Cynicism says our efforts don’t matter. Cynicism says it’s not our problem. Cynicism says we may as well give up and quit trying.

Jesus says otherwise.

Originally published on www.kellyjohnsongracenotes.com

2 thoughts on “Cynicism vs. Hope: Guest Post by Kelly

  1. Beautiful. I struggle with this as a pastor, seeing people I did believe in hurt me and the church without any concern. It’s tough to be in the middle of it all the time, let alone see what’s going on in the world and then comparing what I see with what Jesus taught. But indeed, cynicism helps no one; it only adds more hurt, exponentially, since it agrees with the evil. I want to agree with hope, because I know that’s what wins.

    Liked by 1 person

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