Saturday, September 03, 2005

On Why I am a Cynic

cyn·ic  n.
  1. A person who believes all people are motivated by selfishness.

  2. A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.

  3. Cynic A member of a sect of ancient Greek philosophers who believed virtue to be the only good and self-control to be the only means of achieving virtue.
Seeing as how I am not an ancient Greek Philosopher, I’d have to identify with number 1 and 2. A skeptic. A person who sees only the price, not the value. Often confused with the brooding pessimist. Hated by romantics and ridiculed by optimists, for our brutally practical outlook. And naturally, shunned by just about everyone who doesn’t want to hear the truth (which comprises fully the non-cynical population of the planet).

Cynicism has its roots amongst the ancient Greeks. (By Jove, did they invent EVERYTHING good on this planet, including toga-tops?) An inborn human trait, it would seem, to criticize what needs to be criticized. We live and die by Murphy’s law.

I borrow this quote: "[A cynic] is an idealist whose rose-colored glasses have been removed, snapped in two and stomped into the ground, immediately improving his vision." (

Once, long long time ago in the distant mists of my childhood, I believed. I believed in God. I believed that everything that happens is for the good. I believed that one day, my prince charming would sweep me off my feet, riding in on a white horse. And I believed that the world played fair, rewarding good and punishing evil. I was in a safe idealistic cocoon, within the neat lines of black and white, right and wrong.

Then life happened.

You know, the usual. The discriminatory remarks from the other kids, due to the colour of my skin. Watching people die just because they happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Reading about women being raped and brutalized mercilessly. The world didn’t play fair, honey. It just played.

Even the concept of love wasn’t spared. I admit freely, I am a sucker for love songs as much as the next girl. Yet, the girly, dreamy notion of love stops there. After a couple of crushes, I learnt that outer beauty was indeed more important in our society than any amount of inner beauty. I don’t believe in love at first sight. Lust at first sight, maybe. But never love. And most of all, I don’t believe in true love. Because true love by definition is selfless, all-consuming, focusing only on the object of your affection. Human beings are constitutionally incapable of loving that selflessly, because all love is inherently selfish.

But tell that to an infatuated, moony, teenage girl, and she is likely to hit you.

People dislike cynics because we represent the obstacle to their comfortable illusions. They don’t want to believe that true equality doesn’t exist. Or that the hard-earned they donate to charities hardly goes towards the intended cause. Or that the war which their countries have chosen to wage is doing more harm than good, and not for the reasons their leaders have chosen to tell them. Most of all, they hate us for being so darn right every single time.

Cynics of the world, unite.