In various ways, we start out with high ideals – dreams of how things can be and principles we value dearly – but almost inevitably end up in some kind of compromise. And we might say that’s just how life is, that the ideals of youth cannot last in the real world; but there’s often a bitterness mixed in with that, a part of us still hoping for more.
This idea of compromise cropped up already in relation to spiritual ideas, artistic collaboration, and also education (see Notes One); areas where vision meets reality and struggles to realise its intentions in a flawed and pressured world. More fundamentally, this can become an attitude to life itself (Note Two).
Which I guess is this basic conflict between ideas and reality, thought and actions. We might have ideas of how life can be, but so much depends on the world around us with its systems and collective behaviour patterns: we have to make ends meet, get along with others, and also accept the inability of changing their ideas or effecting immediate change ourselves.
So it seems compromise is part of life, however much we might search for all-embracing solutions and seek to make a valuable contribution to human society.
And in a way this often comes down to money; that’s the factor that bends people’s ideals in a practical sense or makes them appear compromised by the agendas of business or the temptation of personal gain. Money being this fact of life, this way we must trade our dreams and efforts in order to make a living (Note Three).
Money seems to be set against us as we seek to realise our ideals in life; given how we need it to sustain ourselves or facilitate more organised commercial activity. It’s hard to avoid compromise in all that, yet, for many, the truth and value of what you say can be tainted as soon as you accept money or make a decision guided by it.
To take a fairly recent example, Casey Neistat felt the need to address accusations of selling out (link below). It’s an interesting video for many reasons, and I’m not entirely familiar with the background of his career and those responses to it; but it seems people take offence at the financial transaction and the associated loss of something perceived as genuine. Essentially though, it’s a heightened version of what I’m talking about.
It’s a complicated situation: we all have our ideals and also our compromises; and it seems we want to see ideals find their place in the world through the activities of others but get disillusioned or frustrated at the compromises we also see there.
For me, it’s a flawed system and most people simply try the best they can; and of course there tend to be less-than-ideal compromises in business. But bringing ideals to life is incredibly hard, so maybe being more understanding of our idealistic imperfections or compromises might be a better way to move forward together.
Notes and References:
Casey Neistat “Millionaire YouTube SELLOUT” https://youtube.com/watch?v=BQ_z48aJD5o
Note 1: The business of spiritual ideas
Note 1: Art, collaboration & commodification
Note 1: Education, society & the individual
Note 2: Mental health relative to modern times
Note 3: Life and money, seamlessly interwoven
Ideas around thought, reality and ideals are also explored in What inspires all of this.