I’ve never understood cynicism

cinnamoncandleOn Sunday, I wrote a column for Mother Courant about the need for providing household goods for people who have been homeless, but now are being housed through Greater Hartford’s 100-day challenge.

The response has been, in a word, incredible. Sara Capen Salomons is the contact person for Journey Home, the lead agency in the effort, and so far she’s gotten roughly 50 offers for donations and volunteers, including an email from Bob’s Discount Furniture (a fixture around here, if you’re reading this from far away) with an offer of $12,500 in gift cards for everyone else who’ll be housed in the coming days. I’ve heard from people offering trucks, storage, and encouragement.

This? Is incredible. And awesome. And awe-inspiring. And Sara will get back to you as soon as she can, but yesterday she was running Haircuts for Humanity. That woman is on fire.

Journalists have a horrible reputation for cynicism. We hate everyone. We’d walk over our mother’s grave to get a story. And we are hard-wired to see the underbelly of life, and that makes us mean as a snake. But that has not been my experience, the underbelly. What I’ve seen in my 1,000 (so far) years in journalism is that most people want to do the right thing. They’re aching to, actually. And when they read about a family being burned out of their apartment, or a classroom that’s going without supplies, or people who’ve been homeless for years and are now stepping into empty apartments, they want to do something.

Until we figure out a system different from the one we have now — a system that churns up and spits out people who are homeless — this kind of stuff continually reaffirms for me that people care. They do. No, charity is no substitute for justice, not in any way, shape or form. But in the interim? This makes me smile.


Published by datingjesus

Just another one of God's children.

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  1. I…for one…believe that a healthy dose of cynicism is a good thing…necessary even…especially for journalists. I would much rather be accused of cynicism than blind faith.

    1. I would rather indulge in skepticism. Here’s the difference, as I tell students: If you tell a cynic, “Your mamma doesn’t love you,” a cynic will take you at your word and feel really crappy. If you tell a skeptic “Your mamma doesn’t love you,” the skeptic will go out and investigate and if said skeptic finds that in fact, Mamma DOES love him/her, then said skeptic will embrace the truth. A cynic just goes for the dark place, regardless.

      1. I see the two as essentially synonymous…cynic being more often applied narrowly…to the sphere of human nature…skeptic being applied more broadly.

        Cynic could imply a greater degree of intransigence than skeptic, especially when implied narrowly, but credulity is not necessarily inherent in either.

        1. I love it when you use SAT words. Mostly, I prefer to keep my mind a little bit open. We probably agree more on this than not, as is with most things — except Capitalism, which I love.

            1. If I am skeptical of your definition of terms, I am not cynical about your intent.

              How’s that?

                1. Aren’t you glad I’m not in your class?

                  My youngest housemate, an aspiring engineer, says to me yesterday:
                  “I comb my hair with a brush.”
                  “No you don’t.”
                  “Yes…I do.”
                  “No…you don’t. A comb combs, A brush brushes. Each functions differently in performing a task.”
                  “You know what I mean.”
                  How can I know what you meant when you talk nonsense?”
                  “You meed to get out more.”
                  “I knew him when he got out more,” says The Mother. “I doesn’t help.”
                  “In fact,” says The Father, “it makes it worse.”

                2. The way I see the subtle difference is, a cynic believes the negative view, and without question, continues the belief. A skeptic starts out with the negative view due to doubts, but is open to the positive side because he/she is willing to question.

                  It’s like cynicism is a religion and skepticism is science…which means, leftover is a religious believer, and dj is a scientific atheist. Hahahaha – see what I did?

                  I’m kidding. I think you need to see how each is used in a sentence to understand the intended meaning. And so, I agree with both of you because of that.

                  What you posted? It is incredible! It looks like it’s been such a team effort, with Sara as the anchor. And you, dj, use your talents for such good. Spreading the word lets people know how they can help, which is an important cog in the wheel. It’s great the response has been so overwhelming. Very nice of Bob to be so generous! Very nice that so many (50+?) want to pitch in any way they can. Hopefully, the recipients know a lot of people care about their well-being.

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