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The Idealist’s Dilemma

Published On: July 16, 2016 10:40 AM NPT By: Avaneesh Yadav

Avaneesh Yadav

Avaneesh Yadav

The contributor for Republica.

Dreams are the ideas that represent our ideals and aspirations. Often they lie beyond our immediate reach, and that becomes one of the reasons why we crave for them. Ironically, the dreams that are pursued in life are usually not the fancy visions that flash when we are asleep. They are in fact what prevent us from sleeping. A dream can become the goal of your life. 

A pessimistic notion is that dreams are false hopes with no substantial outcomes in life. People may view a dream as a mirage that distracts them from the real world. Realists take pride in seeing things for what they are, whereas dreamers are different. They advocate practicality and proclaim to be street smart. According to realists, real life demands us to be formless like water and adapt to different situations. The realist also believes that ideals are accommodated by weak individuals who live in their own worlds outside reality. Tupac Amaru Shakur, who ruled the 90’s West Coast rap game had once said, “Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real.” This might sound surprising though as Tupac had nicknamed himself Makaveli after the Italian war strategist, Niccolo Machiavelli, who was famous for his works on ruthless realism. 

But then aren’t we the ones who create reality together? And thus if we preach ideals, can’t we create a separate reality which may alter the present state of affairs? Gandhi is the quintessential crusader. He was a staunch believer of non-violence who toppled the imperialists who were far superior in military strength. His victory echoes the typical David versus Goliath story. 

However, there is now the persona of Lincoln, who is regarded as a realist. He never stressed on his anti-slavery stand at the wrong moments and was bent to unite the American Confederate States. He was the same Lincoln who had written to his son’s teacher: try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon. It gives us a glimpse of his idealistic outlook as well.
Further, we have intense realists like Malcolm X who asserted that revolution should be brought by any means necessary. Malcolm was the type of person who believed in retaliation. He drew a stark contrast to Martin Luther King Jr., the civil rights activist known for his weapons of love. King lived by Gandhi’s principles, and today he is better known than Malcolm X. 

The realist will look at politics as a chessboard. As in a game of chess, he makes calculated moves and perceives that although the sixty-four squares may seem numerous, there might be limited ways to checkmate the opponent. If he doesn’t checkmate his rival, he will end up the same fate. The idealist has a broader vision and accommodates the possibility of both sides winning the game. It is generally accepted that morality and ethos are the most important life source of a civilization. An idealist prioritizes morality over results whereas the realist does the vice-versa.

“Reality is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity,” said Will Smith. It is up to us to agree or disagree with this statement. We see that the dreamer’s path is the less popular one. It is more arduous, but it brings greater good to society. Popular culture glorifies the realist’s methods. But history has shown that it is the idealist who usually trumps in the long run, and history often repeats itself. 

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