A skeptic is someone who questions things; someone who desires to look beyond the surface.
A cynic is someone who attributes negative motivation to a person.
I fear that we have moved well beyond the former toward a society so overcome by cynicism that we can no longer trust each other.
This used to play out more often in media or educational institutions, but it has consumed the rest of our society.
We can see this play out in real time (and yes, I do realized these are oversimplifications):
- Donald Trump (in basically any scenario)
- Skeptic – let’s investigate whether or not this policy will be successful.
- Cynic – this policy benefits only rich, White Republicans and is designed to destroy minority communities.
- Skeptic – let’s look into the data and act accordingly.
- Cynic – Bill Gates, Fauci, CDC, WHO, and Trump are all evil actors who want to destroy the country and its people.
- Skeptic – let’s gather some evidence and see whether or not this assault happened as stated.
- Cynic – all women should be believed, because every man commits sexual assault (even in consensual, monogamous relationships) because of the power disparity between the sexes in our patriarchal society.
- George Floyd/Ahmaud Arbery
- Skeptic – let’s see what happened before and after the video going around, as well as gather data and evidence about the case.
- Cynic – racism!
THE CYNICS TAKE OVER
This is a highly disturbing trend. Cynicism is often rooted in the most negative feelings one can muster. It does not question the facts of an event, but assumes the worst possible motivation. In fact, evidence cannot be trusted because the sources are also acting with the worst intentions.
If you wonder why conspiracy theories seem to be coming fast and furious right now, it’s because the cynics are dominating.
Russian collusion, Plandemic, Blacks being hunted by police, White privilege, Obama’s birth certificate, 9/11 was an inside job – many (I would argue all) of these theories are based in cynicism, and any attempt to question the data behind the complains is met with contempt.
I believe it is wise to be skeptical. We should question information and authorities, but it requires a modicum of trust in certain institutions. We cannot discuss any policy or theory without agreement that data must come from somewhere.
This used to be the norm. Government statistics were the basis for crime and economic data – even for the most libertarian among us. With cynicism running roughshod, we are supposed to throw all of this out.
This ensuing “Legitimation Crisis” is devastating to the country. It is producing a disunity unlike anything I have ever seen. The walls of reality are collapsing, and our nation is fragmenting.
It is becoming more difficult to be a skeptic in a world of cynics. Data no longer matters, because our sources are compromised. We cannot trust our institutions. Anyone skeptic who disagrees with a cynic is a bad actor who is a part of the system.
Turn on cable news for five minutes and you will see this on full display.
Talk to your friends and family and you will see it as well.
We cannot survive this way – and that is exactly what the postmodernists predicted would happen. I have said for years that some are weaponizing postmodernism in order to bring about the fragmentation of institutions and social categories.
I believe the ability to correct course is gone. Cynicism is ingrained in our families, our media, our schools, and our churches.
The solution is to abandon cynicism for skepticism and seek out the only source of Truth. The Bible transcends public policy and Twitter. It provides answers on how to treat one another, especially when facing conflict. If we have to be grounded in something, I would suggest the Book over CNN or your Facebook “friends.”