Together with corruption and hypocrisy, cynicism is another scourge of our society. It is the belief that there is never a genuinely good intention, but that all words and actions are hiding a selfish and dishonest motive.
It is a declaration of distrust in the integrity and honesty of others. It is a way by which we trash the absolute values that guide us in doing things with a good intention, and that envy, disloyalty, selfishness and greed overpower any form of positivity and hope.
It is a bleak world indeed that we see through cynical eyes.
World events do not help. Politicians are elected to government with evident inappropriateness for office. Businessmen are lauded for achievements that are a result of corruption and money laundering. Ordinary people living their normal lives are following social media, listening to the radio or watching television programmes that are infected by this disease. Cynics keep away from religion as they believe they can see through the piety and rituals of the religious.
All this creates the numbness in people’s hearts when it comes to making money, building relationships and developing our career; and numbness in our hearts when we express our opinion on immigration or the environment.
We need to rediscover ourselves and return to the basic questions – who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?
The scourge of cynicism reflects our way of believing and thinking. We believe we understand everything when we have not yet understood anything. The human person is much more complex than the personalities viewed on our screens or the way they present themselves through social media.
It is a time for a new enlightenment as it seems we have turned full circle and lost our capacity to think. The society we experience through the media is a godless society where we have lost the significance of life and its contribution to human development. Life is not about achieving everything at once, but a patient process of growth and development.
We need to rediscover ourselves and return to the basic questions – who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? The answer lies not only within ourselves, but in our relationship with others and with God; a combination of rationality and science with a search for truth through faith.
In Romans 12:2, St Paul says: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
It is difficult to understand this as it sounds contradictory, but we need to return to becoming children going through the adventure of discovering the world. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Cynicism can only be eradicated by returning to an innocent search of human motives. A revisiting of the enlightenment through the eyes of the faithful and the hopeful. We must not be afraid of doubt and questioning. Indeed, it is by admitting that we still need to understand that we can genuinely search for the truth and seek the answers to our questions.
Pope Francis concluded his address to the Roman Curia just before Christmas by targeting directly our faith: “A faith that does not trouble us is a troubled faith. A faith that does not make us grow is a faith that needs to grow… A faith that does not shake us is a faith that needs to be shaken. A faith that is only intellectual or lukewarm is only a notion of faith.”