My brain is really disorganized right now. Possibly because I went to sleep worrying about fall arrangements and then I had a dream that at least a couple things had been accomplished in my life, then I woke up and I still hadn’t even put my laundry to dry. I also woke up late, which is always disorienting. So,this is going to be all over the place. I would write it later, but I know I won’t, because I really only write when I shouldn’t be writing. I should be preparing for my day by doing the things that need to get done before I leave for a bike trip this afternoon. But that’s going to wait.

I am hungry, though. So perhaps I will get breakfast first.

See? This is why most blogs are stupid. Because they post stupid stuff like that and expect it to be read. Apologies.


Hungry. I was hungry, so I ate. Some people sometimes do not do this. For example, there is a hunger strike for Iran going on right now. I don’t know why.

I know the intentions. To draw attention on the whole election and its unthinkable consequences, to hope to inspire the international community into action, to protest the actions of the Iranian government in a peaceful way, etc. All very nice ideas that I generally don’t mind jumping on the bandwagon for.

However.

I don’t see the point of random, unknown Iranians not in Iran doing this. Okay, it’s being led by Iranian intellectuals and  celebrities on the steps of the UN. So, they are  are not random, nor are they unknown. They have a little more clout. If they start dying (which they won’t) or getting seriously ill, the Iranian government might feel a little embarassed.

But they’re not going to start dying. This is a two-day hunger strike.

When Ghandi hunger striked, he was in prison, and he was famous enough so that it would look really, really bad for India to let him die in prison. And there’s this other Indian dude – Bhagat Singh – who hunger striked while in prison for the cause of suitable food and basic hygeinic necessities for prisoners. This makes sense to me. Hunger striking for an issue in another country when you’re no one? That doesn’t speak to me.


Last semester I frequently found myself in Harvard Square. At least once a week, there was some sort of protest or vigil for a million-mile-away tragedy. It was like an international parade, one week China, one week Indonesia, one week Korea…Alright. In retrospect, it was very Asia-oriented. That makes sense, there are tons of Asians in the area.

The point? Right, the point. The point is that no matter how big or interesting or well-planned these protests were, they never seemed to have the intended effect. People walked by without turning their heads. One or two police officers, required for such events, wandered lackadaisically. News cameras were never there.

It is so strange to me to live in a place where people can protest without consequence. Good or bad! I guess that’s what everyone wanted and still wants – to be able to share their opinions and speak the truth – but the hurdle of getting people to listen is there now, isn’t it? Sometimes I wonder about free speech. Does it really help, or does it just serve to calm the masses? We can say whatever we want, so we must be powerful and free! We now find ourselves at the level of the government, able to communicate ideas and visions to our compatriots. But is that really good enough?

Perhaps when your government oppresses your speech, you are forced to be more creative with your protests and revolutions. You are forced to think. Most people think less when they talk.

And anyway, the freedom of speech, after all, really only gives you the right to say words…which aren’t worth much. And don’t say they are, because if you’ve ever listened to a politician speak and criticized them for talking all the time, you believe that, too. I hate the double-standard held for politicians and activists about talk being in/significant.

Where am I going with all this? I got sidetracked. All I really wanted to say so far was that I think this “hunger strike” is stupid, and I think protests in Harvard square are pointless. No – that is not all. Those are just the predecessing remarks to what I actually want to talk about.

Cyncism.

Cynicism is not realistic and tough. It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.

The opposite of creativity is cynicism.

Oh how I hate the internet for making me think twice about everything I say with its out-of-context one-liners. I’m trying to convince myself that though I may think twice about something, the first thought can still be right. But it’s hard. I’m so trained in the ways of open-mindedness that unless I use a lot of mental energy to stop myself, I always end up falling for the next interesting idea. One shouldn’t be “so open-minded your brain falls out.”

Ach, another tangent. Remember, I just woke up.

I never wanted to be a cynic. I never wanted to be that guythis guy. The one always crushing everyone’s hopes and dreams because it’s not going to work.

In the world of activism, I feel that stupid idealism (that’s right! I said it!) is protected in the same way that disabled people and minorities are in ours. Minorities cannot be rascist, disabled people can do anything you can do and better because they  have so much life experience, and idealists should not, must not be derailed from their plans, because you know, dreamers are so rare and fragile and valuable.

I realize this, and still I don’t want to be that guy. Such is the stigma that I have been taught to associate with cynicism. I mean, I obviously am and that’s fine, but believing that it’s “fine” is a constant struggle, since at the end of the day I do want to do something good for the world.

This is the problem: people don’t like it when you criticize something, but have nothing to offer.

I am just a 20-year old girl, minimally educated about the world around me. If I did have some “better suggestion,” I would inevitably be wrong. I prefer not to waste my time trying to figure things out when I know I can’t. That is not cynism, that is reason. In the same way that I would not attempt to solve some very famous math problem because I wouldn’t know where to start, I would not attempt to solve one of humanity’s great problems because I don’t know where to start.

There are people working on those math problems. These people have (hopefully) spent their lives studying, researching, gathering information and skill, and because of all this, they might have a chance at accomplishing something. The same principles should be held for humanitarian work. Obviously, there will always be geniuses, revolutionaries and exceptions – but most people should recognize that exceptions are…exception. They need to stop believing so much of themselves and get an education.

See? I’m not 100% a cynic. I don’t believe that one shouldn’t try. Just that one should try things that have a chance of working.

Of course, there’s the argument that learning from your mistakes is the only way to really accomplish anything. But I think that’s BS. Learning from other people’s mistakes and successes can be just as fulfilling, and more efficient.

I hate using the word efficient.

So I’ve just spend almost an hour clumsily explaining why nothing will work the way things are going. And now this:

The world has too many people who are happy to discuss why something might not work, and too few who will cheer you on and say, ‘I’m there for you.’

-John Wood, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World

(Ugh. Everything I said, judged, condemned and marked by a single nearly-legimate sentence. Again.)

Despite my immense respect of John Wood, I resent this statement. It perpetuates the general belief held by people who care that the world can be seen only two ways: Optomistically or pessimistically. They way it is or the way it should be. People are all cynics or dreamers, and the cynics must be ignored, and the dreamers must be protected.

Whatever happened to pragmatism?

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One Response to

  1. lifebesweet says:

    awww, Karen.

    1. You should maybe wait a while after waking up before writing.

    2. I definitely understand where you’re coming from. Do you remember last year, when we had a conversion on a similar topic? And we decided that people at MIT can be too overwhelming in their idealism, and that these little kids think they can just go out and change the world, just like that? The only thing I can say is that dreaming keeps us going, and reality holds us back. Both forces have to be present to keep things in equilibrium.

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