Is it that we’re always living somewhere between ideals and reality? All things existing at some point on this scale from the beautiful, rarefied world of philosophical concepts all the way down to their often-flawed implementations, within which we tend to find ourselves tangled in the real world. As if we’re all living in some imperfect version of the dream – the imagined and hoped-for manifestation of perfect wisdom.
And, as humans, we can surely understand both: we can grasp how things “should be” and see all the ways reality’s falling short in so many aspects of our lives. The mind both thinks and observes; seeing the ideas and noticing the realities. Don’t we feel it? All the painful imperfection of inspiringly beautiful concepts somehow being distorted, broken or discarded at various moments within everyday life.
Maybe that’s simply where a lot of mental discomfort steps in? This build-up of all the times we’re seeing notions of kindness, fairness, respect, consideration, patience, interest, tolerance, reciprocity, honesty or concern fall away in the face of their opposite. As if reality’s almost this seeking of balance between opposing extremes: each day filled with moments where ideals should, perhaps, step in to guide our actions.
How “are” we to live in such a world? A place where what we know, feel or believe to be right is up against all these examples of completely different kinds of thinking. This sense in which the childlike desire for fairness and love is almost inevitably crumpled along the individual’s path to maturity. As if our ideals “have” to somehow be broken in order for us to live within society and accept its parameters.
Is it true? That there’s no place for idealism. No way in which we could string all of humanity’s finest concepts into some kind of workable configuration. No possibility of our lives unfolding in perfect harmony alongside countless others. As if we simply have to accept imperfection; our own minds perhaps forever taunting us over the niggling ideals we hoped would find their place in our lives.
It seems the kind of dissonance that could break the human spirit, wearing us down to the point of dejected fatalism. That the mind would be capable of seeing and appreciating such concepts yet destined to exist within their flawed manifestation. It seems likely to prompt either anger or resignation: the emotions sparked by this frustration striking out in fiery indignation or folding in to become bitter apathy.
Between those, hopefully there would always be points of engagement? Places we could discuss things and understand exactly how or why the realisation of our finest ideals presents such a challenge. Somewhere to insist on bringing those values to life and create awareness around all the fine lines crisscrossing every moment of every aspect of everything we do – and, all the problems that come by ignoring them.
Finding those places – countless as they may be – might be far from easy, but where are we likely to end up otherwise?
Notes and References:
Wisdom the world no longer gives?
Conversations we agree to have
Pieces of the puzzle
What’s at the heart of society?
Does money crowd out other values?
Seeing what things mean
Living through the changes