WHO ARE YOU?
Naïve Idealism is falling in love with an ideal or a person or project that represents that ideal. It takes your breath away, fills you with flaming enthusiasm, ideas, plans, dreams and hopes for the future. At long last you have an IDEAL, a lofty, important purpose. A quest. An impossible dream. You imagine the difference you can make, the unique contributions you can offer, how you can be of service to the project, the team, your lover.
You have been waiting for this. Is this a destiny moment? Your life will be forever changed. You will make a significant gift and, in return, you will be enriched, your life will have meaning and importance. You can almost see the smiles from your loved one or the team. They know what you have done. You can almost hear their appreciative remarks. Those who thought you didn’t have the right stuff will, at long last, know your true worth. You made the difference between success and failure, even under tremendous pressure.
WHY ARE YOU HERE?
They will break it to you, and usually not so gently. They will give you a dose of reality. Cold water on your enthusiasm. They’ve seen your head in the clouds. Heard your vanity. They take it upon themselves to pop your balloon. This is not about you. You didn’t have the whole picture. You didn’t know the ropes. You were naïve; that’s why it’s called Naïve Idealism. It was somebody else’s turf all along and you thought otherwise. How presumptuous! Where did you get THAT idea? Somebody else was in control. You were a newbie in a shark tank. Your lover had someone else. Somebody didn’t give you what you needed to do it right. You were ill informed. They should have told you before. Now you look like a fool. Feel embarrassed. The ideal is not yours alone. This is not the first time. Why does this always happen to you? Why do you always wind up with the short end of the stick, out of luck, with a bunch of losers who never liked you anyway.
Naïve Idealism (or Love 1.0) is a gift to everyone. You don’t have to earn it. It will bring you a picture of what could have been, of your higher and better self, and then that free-and-easy type of idealism shattered that picture. Whoever it was that designed all this was very clever, because you have been left with the three Horsemen of the Personal Apocalypse: Bitterness, Blame and a Broken Heart. But before you ride one of those horses into the world, look around. You’ll find that there are lots of footprints out of that lonely place.
WHAT DO YOU WANT?
Rudolf Steiner, that early 20th-century social scientist, introduced the idea of Achieved Idealism in a lecture called “Awakening to Community.”3 Steiner says that we are like dreamers who become conscious of our true capacities in this tussle over idealism. It is through others that we awake, and once we are awake, we have to work hard to achieve our ideals through our own efforts. There are so many others who want to take ideals away from us, keep us feeling powerless, keep us unfree.
You want the real deal, you want Achieved Idealism. You have to start with the steel of your personal courage. To make really hard steel, called tempered steel, you must heat up and pound the steel. To become wise, you must be seasoned by going through an entire spectrum of unwise actions leading to failure. To love, you must love and be loved.
Steiner says it is our community which helps us achieve our ideals and tests us personally, and we need both.
Pick an ideal, the bigger the better: liberty, equality, altruism, religion, democracy, chastity; it’s your choice. Then set out to achieve it step by step. Take courage with you and look for others to support you or challenge you, it makes no difference which. Every encounter is an opportunity to learn something about yourself, either positive or negative. Then, based on that feedback, make one small change. This leads to one more quality you need: tenacity. Look at the poem that inspired Nelson Mandela: “Invictus(4),” by William Ernest Henley. “I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul.”
Let us know how you do.
(4)INVICTUS - William Ernest Henley
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish