The Difference Between Idealism and Realism – In this opportunities, I would like to discuss about “Idealism” and “Realism”.
To start about this, I think I need to share my experience, so we need to step a few years back. Many years ago, I had a lofty goals for two different domains; the first for myself, the second is for the world. As a young, newly published and ambitious writer, I wanted to scale the literary heights and take my place among the world’s most widely read and best-loved writers! As a young teacher, I wanted to inspire the girls and boys facing me every morning with their neat school uniforms and eager, trusting faces, to go forth and change the world!
Alas, the reality has fallen far short of the ideal in both domains. Although I have succeeded in getting internationally published, I am nowhere in the big league. As for my students, as far as I know, the majority of them are too preoccupied with making a good living and ensuring that their children attain the same material success to have other goals.
I have since of course realise that in the imperfect world we live in, idealism often has given way to realism, that indeed dreams do sometimes shatter painfully against the hard realities of day to day existence.
The Difference Between Idealism and Realism
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, idealist are often blissfully unaware of their own limitations, and hence, of the considerable gap between their actual talents and the envisioned goal. This is particularly true in one’s youth, a time of life when the body is strong, the heart hopeful, and the spirit hopelessly romantic.
Secondly, idealist often forget that they live in a world of great complexity, flux and change. Mindblogging advances in technology, occuring almost on a daily basis, impact on virtually every sphere of human activity and decision-taking, from making a living to taking a public stand on social and moral values. This means that the individual has to continually adjust these change – or simply lose out.
Adjustment invariably means compromise, which least to disenchantment and disillusionment. While some young idealists choose to abandon their dreams and devote their energies to the practicalities of securing a good job, raising a family and generally advancing in the world, others continue to cling to their dreams of social, religious, moral, cultural or political transformation, often living in self-imposed exile at the fringes of society.
So is there a place for the idealist in the world today? Isn’t it much better to be a realist? Indeed, Is there a choice at all, since we live in a world that is daily coping with the ever present threats of terrorism, tsunamis and natural disasters, pandemics and financial turmoil? In an atmosphere of such uncertainty, high ideals of political freedom, incorruptible leadership, business ethics and personal integrity must seem too abstract or simply unworkable when set against the urgencies of jobs, security and sheer survival.
Now I strongly maintain that despite the seeming irrelevance in a pragmatically oriented world, idealism has a very important, indeed necessary role to play in human affairs, the reason being – human nature is able to move forward only in the presence of goals. We inevitably slide back as soon as these are removed.
We are, in reality, creatures of instinct. We need to guidance of well thought-out and well-articulated principles that constitute the essense of ideals. At their most basic level, then, udeaks are no more than the laws operating in every civilised society. In this sense, idealism and realism are not mutually exclusive, but actually compatible with each other.
Ideals in their highest and most glorious forms are a powerful reminder of what human beings are capable of achieving, a powreful stimulus to the human spirit to transcend the limitations of man’s life on earth.
It is this transcendental powre of the creative mind and the ever-active imagination that uniquely defines our species. Without ideals, there would be no great explorers, inventors, artists or revolutionaries, no movers and shakers to transform and renew society.
But what if ideals, being all about perfection, are unachievable, since we are all imperfect creatures? So what? Even if we are not perfectible, we are improvable, and that is exactly what ideals are all about.
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