We can be too optimistic and positive, to where we are simply naïve. While naiveté may seem charming, it can’t accomplish much. It can be a pitfall for the faithful of any religious persuasion. To ignore the reality of evil can lead us to minimize or overlook the suffering of the victims of evil.
Nor do we want to take cover as cynics. Cynicism is the mirror opposite of naiveté. While cynicism poses as sophistication, it really is the domain of cowards. If all is hopeless, if all effort is useless, then we are relieved of ever trying to make things better. It also obscures the fact that very little in life is truly black and white, and to live well we need to be comfortable with grey.
Cynicism is highly seductive, as cynics claim to occupy a realm which operates above the fray. That’s bunk because the fray is life. Courage and hope are antidotes to cynicism. We don’t have to sit around a wait for either, because both courage and hope are decisions.
In the end, it all comes down to integrity, a concept that has unfortunately gone out of fashion. Which is, among other things, curious, because integrity means wholeness, and who doesn’t want to be whole? But integrity takes work. Or maybe it scares white people because of its familiarity with the word integrate. The fact is that we must adopt a coherent set of ethics and values and then proceed to live according to their precepts if we are to be whole human beings.
Integrity allows us to be realistic and authentic. Realism is where truth is found, and it protects us from both naiveté and cynicism.