Monday, 31 May 2004

Idealistic Vision & Practical Considerations

I've always been an idealist. At times that's led to naivete, but it scarcely means that I can't weigh practical concerns in reaching conclusions. Indeed it is never necessary that idealism be naive. Martin Luther King Jr was extraordinarily effective because of his ability to predict the practical outcomes of group actions he endorsed, while never losing sight of the idealistic vision, which was the underpinning of the changes he espoused.

It strikes me that a very common course is for people who follow their ideals early and get burned one or more times to become cynical and start to favor practical courses of action over idealistic ones as a matter of policy. The world very much needs pragmatists skilled in predicting outcomes, but when pragmatism becomes the goal, and idealistic vision is mocked as naive, then pragmatism loses its point altogether.

It is my intent to present the ideal and ask "Why not?" Sometimes there's a good answer, but even then keeping a vision of the ideal gives us a yardstick against which to measure the various outcomes short of the ideal which are within reach. After that it is all cost/benefit analysis, but proximity to ideals needs to be kept as a highly desired benefit, else we stray down a random road without much meaning.

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