Somebody stop me, I'm about to get cynical

By: Tom Rupp, A Word to the Wise
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Conan O’Brien, near the end of his final Tonight Show, spoke on a serious note about his departure. In his speech he said, “I hate cynicism. It’s my least favorite quality. It doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get.” That was a classy response to a bad situation. A fine line exists between cynicism and an accurate acknowledgement of a negative reality. Merely drawing attention to how bad things realistically are is not the same as becoming bitter about it. It can easily slide into that, but it doesn’t have to do so. This leads us to politics. If there is a recovery group dedicated to those who habitually fall off the wagon of cheeriness into the gutter of cynicism, please save me a seat. It’s about to get ugly. Columnist Joel Achenbach recently wrote a piece titled “The Politics of Nope” in which he begins by stating, “All the passion in American politics is oppositional. The American people know what they don’t like, which is: everything.” Political sliminess is not a Republican or Democratic vice. It is systemically the nature of the beast. It is money that keeps the monster alive…big money. There is no other way. It is no longer, if it ever was, about helping “the common man” as much as it is about image, individual agendas and career politicians. Don’t forget personal aggrandizement. In Mel Gibson’s newest movie, “Edge of Darkness,” a politician declares to Ray Winstone, “I am a United States senator,” to which bad guy Winstone replies, “By what standard?” Our system ideally includes public service. But how much service can you do when, upon entry into your new office, you are already setting your eyes on the next election and setting in motion the machinery for a re-election campaign? Term limits sometimes makes sense. Our system ideally included representative democracy. But how can most of our citizenry even consider the possibility of becoming a public servant if they do not personally possess, or have the connections to acquire, the necessary money to give it a try? That goes for even local positions here in Folsom and El Dorado Hills. One definition of cynical is to be “bitterly or sneeringly distrustful, contemptuous or pessimistic.” Tonight my realism borders on cynicism. I’m hopeful, because I have seen the possibilities of righteously clear conviction. And yet … Tom Rupp is a Bible Teacher at Capital Bible College. He can be reached at or through his blog at