I'm 21. I feel like I'm far too young to be this cynical and disenchanted by life already. I remember when I was 17 or 18 and believed it was possible for there to be meaningful progress; those of you who've been following my journal for years will probably recall my passionate political entries of the "early days". Rather crucially, I believed in things - that the system worked, that it could be used to meaningfully better life, and that people would generally behave in good faith rather than selfish interest. I know many of my contemporaries still think like I used to think. This is apparently the idealistic stage of life, with possibilities and opportunities. Ha.
I suppose I still have some of the idealism. I'm a weak pacifist - i.e. I believe violence can only be justifiably used in self-defence, as opposed to strong pacifists who do not believe violence can ever be justifiably used. I believe the rise of secular values and corresponding decline in religiosity will continue unabated. My opinions on the necessity of urgent and drastic action on climate change and other environmental matters fit comfortably with the parts of the green left written off as idealists. But these are ideological stances of what I believe is right; I have no delusions that they will be realised, besides the rise of secular values one which is based on statistical trends and applies to just about everywhere except the US, where the Enlightenment was simply something that happened to other countries.
So despite these arguably idealistic stances, my cynical side shows very strongly. I watch the news nightly, but none of the political controversies and global events seem to summon much passion in me any more. Take for example the fiasco surrounding the Zimbabwean elections. No surprises there; just what you would expect from Mugabe, and getting all heated up about it on my blog isn't going to do much. Wailings of "why do we let this happen?" add nothing of substance. I expect Mugabe to continue to destroy Zimbabwe with little more than hot air in response from the outside world. I expect Darfur to drag on for years. I expect the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to not reach any resolution. I expect governments globally to keep screwing over the least fortunate and most vulnerable. Don't forget Cambodia; after millions died at the hands of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, Vietnam was criticised for invading Cambodia and ousting the regime, and Khmer Rouge diplomats were acknowledged as Cambodia's representatives by the Western powers into the 1990s. That's just the way things go, and when this world wakes up too late to where it's going, I'll just say "well, I told you so".
Nobody's listening. Nobody wants to hear it. Climate change is a fight enough; good luck mentioning the Holocene extinction event without being considered an apocalyptic weirdo or a miserable doomsayer. We like our comfortable Western lives, after all. The prospect of even the smallest of socially positive progress seems doomed at the hands of political mechanisms that serve narrow interests, function inordinately slowly, and are caught in numerous shackles. I suppose it's fundamentally a fear of commitment and responsibility. I've known a lot of people like that; it seems fairly common. As long as we don't have to commit to anything and as long as we don't have to be responsible for anything, well, we can just keep cruising along obliviously and without worrying about the consequences. That's for someone else. And, frankly, what can you do anyway? I've accomplished nothing. Now I'm just worn down and expect nothing more than the same failure.