Sunday, November 11, 2007

Idealism

I am thoroughly enjoying this weekend~~it still feels like vacation. I guess that's because it IS still vacation! WooHoo! Yesterday around noon D said "Let's see if we can get tickets to the matinee performance of Man of LaMancha downtown." I was at that moment deeply involved in straightening and organizing my home office (I love doing that!), but am VERY glad that I agreed. I hadn't seen this musical since I was a teenager. I can sing parts of "The Impossible Dream" and "I am I, Don Quixote, the Man of LaMancha!" (who can't?), but I had forgotten the story. This particular production had its problems, but overall I just loved it!

I'm such an idealist. The sermon I heard this morning has something to say about that, actually. The title was "Stewards of Life in the Realm of Death." Idealism, if it does not deny reality, is a good thing, I think. It's hope. If reality is denied, of course, idealism is only an empty exercise in positive thinking. The sermon reminded me of why the Church is important and why my calling to ministry continues to feel important and alive to me.

The interesting thing about idealism and seeing reality, to me, is how "seeing reality" is such a slippery concept to begin with. The woman Aldonza is no "lady." Yet when the 'mad' knight Don Quixote cannot see her in any other way, no matter how urgently and angrily she begs him to see her for what she is, she then becomes a lady, Dulcinea. Ah, beautiful! So, is this knight insane, or simply better than the rest of us at actually seeing?

I wrote a paper once on Carl Rogers and his humanistic psychology. Rogers believed that his patients improved because of his unconditional positive regard for them, his own congruence (authenticity), and the safe and empathic environment he created for them. In my paper I wrote admiringly of many aspects of his approach, but critiqued him for failing to take the power of evil seriously. I still believe my critique was on target, but even so, many people experienced powerful healing under Rogers' approach of offering unconditional positive regard. And Aldonza became the lady she is and always had been through one other person's steadfast recognition of her essential goodness.

I realize that I'm equating idealism with a very high anthropology. They aren't the same thing, but they do feel that way at times in this world where millions of human beings are "trafficked" daily for sex and for slave labor...where children learn they are valuable only if they make their parents look good in some way...where holy listening is so terrifyingly rare...where baby girls are still automatically destroyed at birth...Oh, there are so many ways we callously blind ourselves to the ultimate value, the absolute preciousness, of our fellow human beings.

"You see things, and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were, and I say 'Why not?'" ~George Bernard Shaw~
(Robert F. Kennedy was quoting Shaw, as D informed me yesterday)

7 comments:

Mystical Seeker said...

As the character Boogie said in the movie "Diner", "If you don't have good dreams, Bagel, you got nightmares."

Without hope, what's the point? I think that we have to be guided by hope of a better world. My mother used to call me an "idealist" as if that were something charming, quaint, and divorced from the everyday world. But I would dispute that.

Anonymous said...

The "Diner" quote reminds me of Hobbes' advice to Calvin, "if you don't get good night hugs you have Kafka dreams." Without the loving relationships that reveal our true selves our entire lives become one long "Kafka dream."

D

Jan said...

Katherine, this was all amazing to me. I'm glad you and D went off to see the play. What a sweet, spontaneous thing to do!

I've been experiencing some depressive feelings for the past day or so, difficult with my kids home. And all I wanted was that "unconditional positive regard" which I wasn't perceiving somehow. That was good for me to read, now that I'm seeing myself at more of a distance to discern a cycle of poor thinking. That's why I posted the picture of the "choir" of "peas."

Katherine E. said...

Thank you, Jan. Good for you in being able to discern the poor thinking involved. Hope you can feel the unconditional positive regard being sent your way this morning! (I left a post on your blog, too.) Thank you so much for sharing...

D and Mystical Seeker, thanks for your comments. Interesting!

Jan said...

Thank you, Katherine, you're a dear.

Jiff said...

Katherine,
This was such a good post for me to read.
I think I'm an essentially hopeful person and yet some days are very hard.
Thanks!!!

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