The Danger of Cynicism

Cynicism is often thought to be cool. Standing aside and apart from the common herd suggests to the cynical intellectual or moral superiority. It is a sign of being special: a looking down on others from the heights of better knowledge or understanding. Forgive me for saying so, but I think that is rot. Cynicism is actually both depressingly common and commonly depressing. Why so? Because, among other things, it destroys wonder.

I’m sure I’m not alone in finding thrilling those first images of Ultima Thule or the far side of the moon. Part of me registers the huge cost involved and the political and economic motivation that co-exists alongside the more purely scientific desire to explore the unknown, but wonder is my predominant emotion, my immediate response. Cynicism doesn’t come into it.

I think that is heartening for all sorts of reasons, not least because I believe that wonder is an important part of prayer. If prayer is no more than a list of requests (sometimes, let’s be honest, demands) or a series of apologies for sins real or imagined, the focus tends to remain firmly on ourselves, and we can easily become cynical because, not surprisingly, God does not see as we see, so our ideas about how our prayer should be answered are often disappointed. Allow a little wonder in and everything is transformed. We are not addressing a God ‘out there’ but a God near to us, who loves us, wishes to be known by us, and whose ideas are infinitely more amazing than our own.

So, whatever else you do today, do please allow yourself a few moments of wonder β€” at the beauty of the sky, the kindness of strangers, even the miracle of being alive one more day.


11 thoughts on “The Danger of Cynicism”

  1. Thank you. I am all too aware of how corrosive my tendency to cynicism can be. A timely reminder for me too as we begin to leave the Christmas season behind and the real winter stretches before us. But primroses and snowdrops are out and even a few violets this morning so I am able to wonder at those brave flowers.

    • Oh no! The Christmas season goes on past the Epiphany, past the Baptism and only really comes to an end on 2 February with Candlemas! Bit I appreciate your point about primroses and snowdrops. πŸ™‚

  2. Cynicism is a product of broken promises, unfulfilled dreams, tiredness of the soul and of the lies that are told and often perpetuated. Its negativity permeates through the mind and attempts to exclude all wonder, hope, regard or love for one’s fellow human beings.
    For many years, when I was in an atheist bubble, cynicism and scepticism were my watchwords. I doubted and detested nearly everyone and everything. When everything seemed at its worst and l knew that my late wife was going to die but not when, l began to look for goodness, grace and equanimity. A blue sky, a beautiful flower or scene, a kind smile from a stranger became enough for me to reach out and seek a better outlook of the world. I realised that there were people out there who were attempting to help others and improve life for us all. And the Lord’s universal message of peace, love and harmony hit me between the ears and eyes like a ray of light. I felt saved, not necessarily healed, but on a road to redemption.
    Dear Sister Catherine, you have been part of my journey and I am grateful to the Lord for bringing me in contact with you and your numerous followers in grace and love. Your prayers, love and guidance are unconditional but heartfelt. We are blessed to know you and through you better know our Lord and Saviour.
    God bless and care for you. Peace and love be with you and us now and forever xx.
    Thank you so very much.

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