People tend to look upon romantics as being somehow delicate and fragile blossoms. Nothing could be further from the truth. To be a romantic in today's world is like being a single flower sprouting from a wall of rock: it sure ain't easy. It's difficult--almost impossible--not to become totally disheartened and discouraged by the world around us. Newspapers, television news reports, and talk-show messiahs bombard us, day in and day out, with examples of the worst elements of human nature to the almost total exclusion of the good. But then, gloom and doom sell; happiness and joy have little commercial appeal.
Surrounded by seemingly overwhelming evidence that we are doomed, vast numbers of otherwise good people, frustrated and confused by the world around them, willingly cede their right to think for themselves to those who, knowing nothing but speaking with an air of absolute authority, assume they know everything. Any self-serving pundit who claims to have the answers to unanswerable questions --without, you'll notice, ever offering details--is sure to gain a devoted if brain-dead following regardless of how specious and/or devoid of logic their claims may be. The mountainsides are alight with the burning bushes of these whose fire creates not light but toxic fumes. And their followers gather raptly 'round, breathing deeply.
Meanwhile, huge segments of our population, deprived of education, encouragement, employment, and hope, smolder on the fringes of society. I live in Chicago, which is, in fact, not one but two cities, a classic division of north and south. While I cannot cite statistics, I am confident in stating that the vast preponderance of violence and, not coincidentally, illiteracy and poverty in the city is located on the south side. That the south side has a disproportionate number of blacks and latinos as compared to the north side is not racist or an attempt to disparage their worth as human beings, but merely further evidence that it is that blacks and latinos throughout the country who are, to a shameful degree, too often denied access to those things which could lift them out of negative factors which keep them from an equal chance for growth.
Disenfranchisement breeds disenfranchisement. Those denied basic opportunities for improvement can scarcely be blamed for not having them. Sadly, those denied opportunity too often develop contempt for the very values they themselves are denied. Human life itself is devalued. Death means nothing when life means nothing. Denied courtesy, compassion, and consideration in their own lives, they then deny those things, and more, to others. Their reality is not only bleak, but too often devoid of hope.
Gangs, the bane of law enforcement, are formed to provide their members the sense of belonging the outside world denies them. Things seen by those in the mainstream of society as being counterproductive to progress in the workplace--excessive tattooing, in-your-face clothing, hairstyles, and attitudes, a disregard for the day-to-day language of the majority, etc.--are embraced by those without hope as a way of self expression, and the more hopeless they feel, the more extreme their flaunting of the larger society in which they do not feel welcome. It is a vicious circle seemingly spinning out of control.
Which brings us back, by a rather circuitous route, to the original point of this blog. We each deal with the reality of the world in our own way. My way is to ignore it as much as I possibly can. I am that flower which somehow manages to survive in a small crack of romanticism in the rock of reality. I find emotional nourishment in even the smallest evidence of goodness. Any display of patriotism, the bravery of individuals or groups responding to disaster, scenes of people helping or comforting one another, masses of people acting on or reacting to a positive stimulus; grown men crying, stirring music--all are guaranteed to elicit the strongest emotional response in me.
So as far as I am concerned, being a romantic is not easy, but it is worth the effort to try. And, when balanced on the scale of who we are as a race, evil may have the volume, but without question good has the weight.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, the recently-released Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).