Cynicism: Taking the Heart Out of a Nation

An optimist celebrating life.

Cynicism: Taking the Heart Out of a Nation


What is a cynic really, you ask…

‘Cynic’ comes from the Greek Kynikos – like a dog.  And from Diogenes of Sinope, the most famous Cynic philosopher, known for ‘barking’ his beliefs, among other dog-like behaviors. 

The original cynics rejected social conventions and weren’t quiet about it, declaring that whatever was natural and easy could not be indecent and therefore can and should be done in public. This shamelessness earned them the Greek epithet ho kyōn “the dog.”

In English, however, cynic and cynical have more to do with distrust of motives than shamelessness. Today a cynic has come to mean a fault-finding critic; especially one who believes human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest. 

You may have noticed a sort of sneering at convention or traditional values by journalists and media today. It has long been noted that reporters who cover politics usually become cynics, slanting their pieces so as to cast doubt on anyone or anything that represents American tradition or custom.

In fact there are organizations that flourish, with your tax dollars, promoting philosophies that represent extreme cynicism when it comes to the basic tenants of religion, family, patriotism, and even the sanctity of human life.

So hardened are the views of the press today, that expressing any positive cultural qualities – such as liking ones country or president – is seen as unsophisticated or dumb; the tone of their pieces often matching the aforementioned organizations whose agenda is to destroy the very beliefs most Americans hold dear.

We also see pessimism represented in the cynical eye-roll of some media or TV sitcom characters when a public figure says something encouraging about America or its long-held traditions.  It seems that loving America, God or the traditional family is suspect in the 21st century…as this is a ‘new day’ and an era of progressive policies where old-school values are seen as ‘out-dated’. Really??


True cynics are afraid of traditional, uplifting messages; as these suggest that Americans still love the basic family unit, schools that teach honest curriculum instead of  propaganda, citizens who feel protective of their country and its heritage, and those who still operate with a moral compass. As these ideas cut close to the essence of what the average citizen is about: a caring human being who knows that fundamentals do matter to the survival of a nation. 

Your fellow citizen may be a pragmatist or an idealist, but his views are his, and like treasured traditions, they represent a safe harbor he’s always been able to count on. So he doesn’t wish to see these beliefs stolen from him by an unfeeling press who appear to prefer robots over humans.

Humans being the ones who can still think for themselvesAnd whether he voices it or not, he’s proud that he has not become a ‘sheeple’, even in the face of social pressure to do so.

“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”  

   –  Oscar Wilde     

The true cynic has lost faith in the goodness of man and sees only his flaws and weaknesses, which he uses to justify the annihilation of what little traditions we have left. Why trust that there will even be a future? is his motto.  Sadly he doesn’t even trust himself, let alone the motives of others…unless they happen to mirror his own.

So what are we left with?   A ‘barking’ press and sneering media pundits whose only headline-grabbing agenda is to tear down the very beliefs you and I feel good about, while hoping to destroy the public will to preserve them.  And knowing if he repeats these  cynical views often enough that many will eventually lose heart and give up.  For ‘hope’ does not spring eternal for the cynic, but is only the next under-toe waiting to pull him under.

Pretty depressing.

This is how you cut the heart out of a nation with cynicism.  Just be ‘suspect’ – often enough and loud enough – of all that Americans hold dear.  And never trust a ‘do-gooder’, as they’re just another sucker with an angle….

Heartbeat of a Nation

We know that the heart is the organ that pumps the life blood into any living entity.  And that the heart of a nation lies in its founding principles and values; for these are the bones and sinew that hold it together. And that these attributes are what created it and gave it the spiritual will to keep going, no matter what.

And what are these so-called attributes that lie in a nations heart?  They are the positive sentiments of the traditions people treasure, are willing to fight for, and give them something to believe in through thick and thin. These values not only built the culture, but but give it wholeness and continuity.

Sadly, some of these beliefs seem too simple or naïve to the cynic. But ‘simple’ can also be powerful.  Things like the sanctity of marriage and family, belief in God and country, respecting the Flag and those who fought and died for it, feeling proud when singing the national anthem, and caring about the dignity of man. And a belief in a benevolent providence after a long night of worry and no sleep, and then seeing a new dawn light the early morning sky.

These may be quiet things rarely expressed, but they nevertheless matter to people who have heart and hope…and don’t wish to lose either.

“Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.”
    –  George Carlin

To the cynic everyone has an angle, or, ‘we’re all going to die anyway…so why bother with intangibles that we can’t see or touch, as these have little or nothing to do with reality. For if life’s really a battle between good an evil…we might as well face the fact that evil has won!’  (Said with rancor or regret, he still believes it to be true…)

However the very heart and soul of a nation lies in the respect its people feel for their basic cultural values. And when people no longer understand the meaning of those values, it’s just a short walk off a cliff toward the oblivion of that culture. For their beliefs…are their culture.

And the survival of any culture depends upon its people realizing that they are the custodians of the principles their founders put there. 

As these principles are the collective heart beat of the nation.


From the Soldiers of Light series












9 thoughts on “Cynicism: Taking the Heart Out of a Nation

    1. Thank you Addie! Am years late in coming back to this section of blog site and am not on a huge backlog. Can’t believe all the great replies!!
      Thanks again for your interest and support.

  1. Very good dissection of a cynic and
    cynicism Barbara, as well as the
    journalistic trend in current day
    America (the new “hip”)! Values are
    what is missing, both in what the
    “hip” write and what they are being
    taught (or more like not being
    taught) in the education that got
    them the job in the first place.
    One not need be nationalistic to to
    simply do what is honorable and
    in-exchange with the heritage that
    one stands on. If you are here and
    are smart enough to observe that here
    is better than some other places,
    then there is an exchange owed;
    nothing is free. It helps when you
    recognize this yourself instead of
    needing others to point it out to you!
    The qualities you speak of are simply
    the basic values that exist in any
    fair exchange; something of value is
    earned or you exchange for it, or you
    pay it forward so others can stand
    where you are now standing.

    1. My god, that is beautiful Jarrett! Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Love the ‘one need not be nationalistic to do what is honorable & in exchange with the heritage that one stands on.’ Wise words! Just observe where you are and what you have – compared to other ‘else wheres’…

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