Seek no refuge from commitment
Diogenes (the Cynic), by John William Waterhouse (1882)
This is sort of a double-tag. Fr. Ron Rolheiser, in Secularity and the Gospel: Being Missionaries to Our Children, quoted a passage from God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It, by Jim Wallis.
Prophetic faith does not see the primary battle as the struggle between belief and secularism. It understands that the real battle, the big struggle of our times, is the fundamental choice between cynicism and hope. The prophets always begin in judgment, in a social critique of the status quo, but they end in hope — that these realities can and will be changed. The choice between cynicism and hope is ultimately a spiritual choice, one that has enormous political consequences.
First, let’s be fair to the cynics. Cynicism is the place of retreat for the smart, critical, and formerly idealistic people who are now trying to protect themselves. They are not naïve. They know what is going on, and at one point, they might even have tried for a time to change it. But they didn’t succeed; things got worse, and they got weary. Their activism, and the commitments and hopes that implied, made them feel vulnerable. So they retreated to cynicism as the refuge from commitment.
Perhaps the only people who view the world realistically are the cynics and the saints. Everybody else may be living in some kind of denial about what is really going on and how things really are.
And the only difference between the cynics and the saints is the presence, power, and possibility of hope. And that, indeed, is a spiritual and religious issue. More than just a moral issue, hope is a spiritual and even religious choice.