The Vigor Of Idealism

Subject: The Vigor Of Idealism
Date: Tue 03 Nov 1998 - 19:26:34 GMT

Maybe it's just that "Home Improvement" rerun I saw where one of the boys got
a little zealous about defending the environment, but I have been thinking
about idealism versus pragmatism recently.

Jill told Tim that you have to expect some idealism from kids, who go
overboard in fighting for their earnest ideas about what is right and what is
wrong. I agree with her there. There is an old quote that goes something
like "one who is not a socialist at 20 has no heart, and one who is not a
republican at 50 has no brain." It's the path we take as we are, moving from
flaming radical to curmudgeonly conservative over the course of a life time.

I have also been watch a lot about the space program, with John Glenn back in
orbit. NASA really was my model in my youth, a kind of idealized version of
the gifts my father gave me from his areospace engineering heritage. I
learned early that design was about tradeoffs, tradeoffs that are best made
though lots of analysis. To me, that analysis was always managed conflict,
throwing disparte goals onto the table, sorting them out and finding a good,
workable solution.

For me, the phrase "no compromise" seems silly and pigheaded, because I
believe that compromise is at the core of how we build a world, a life,
tempering it wiyth balance. One of the compliements I treasure is one from
the design VP, who I as customer support ended up as the intermediary between
he and the marketing VP, who said "I was always convinced you only cared about
finding the best solution." It's true -- I have no hidden agendas, I just
believe that conflict and compromise are required.

As I get older, I see this compromise built of managed yet intense conflict as
the role of the parent in culture. The elders speak for tradition and the
youngsters speak for change while the parents speak for balance, neither
questing for impossible idealized solutions or stopping all progress to
conserve the past. It's why parents have the key role, making the hard
decsions about balance.

>From a spiritual viewpoint, it's great to have dreams and visions, pure
imaginings of what an ideal structure might look like. We must have dreams to
make them come true. Spiritually though, while it's good to committ to
spiritual pinciples, it's bad to expect an outcome, to become attached to the
results. We do what we can to speak our piece in the conflict while knowing
that the results that come about will not be what we imagine them to be, but
rather a melding of many viewpoints and priorities that often builds things
more beautiful than we could ever have imagined alone.

I admire the drive of idealists, who can be driven in pursuit of a vision, but
they also scare me, if the ideal is total change or total absence of change.
I know that compromise is required and is key to build families and
communities. Maybe I lose some of my own energy that way because I try to
come to compromise in my own self rather than taking a more pure position and
allowing society to temper that, much like a couple does when they take pure
positions and come out balanced, but somehow I see that compromise &
controlled conflict as key to my role.

For me, the role of the parent, the compromiser, seems important, not just the
role of the driven visionary who fights for an ideal. I believe in conflict
and the compromise that results from it, believe that it is that conflict and
compromise that make the connections which form community.

But hey -- that's just me.



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