The progression from innocence to cynicism.

I am really not sure if the world is changing or if it is just that I am getting wiser to the atrocities of society that makes me bring up this subject, but as a child I never once recalled that feeling of just expecting something to go wrong, or not being able to trust someone. Even the “stranger danger” mantra we were all taught as children of the 80’s was more of a game than a real threat -“no one would want to hurt me, I’m just a kid that eats way to many Redskins and Fads.”

These days it seems people are less likely to believe what they hear, they are less likely to trust the new neighbour who just moved in and seems perfectly nice (ah, but remember the last neighbours, they seemed perfectly nice for the first three weeks as well, until the moving company arrived with their previously lost stereo and hunting rifles.) Even after the initial honeymoon of meeting someone is over, and they prove they are perfectly respectable and lovely you expect they will disappoint you, either by leaving their green wheelie bins out on the road for too long after rubbish day, or some other equally frustrating habit. Of course there are exceptions to these rules… but those exceptions usually only come about after years and years of relationship building and even then there is the occasional let down.

The simple point of the matter seems to be that every day I know less and less people who believe things will go their way. Cynicism seems to plague so many around me it seems these days I am speaking to and seeking advice from those who choose to take the dark, obstacle fraught road of pessimism over the lighter road of optimism.

A sign of the times perhaps, there does seem to be less working out for this planet than there used to be. The economical and environmental future of the world seems much dimmer than I can ever remember. Or is it. Perhaps it is just a sign of getting older, that you take more notice of the problems of the world and use their negative energy to flatten out your own hopes and dreams into something much more manageable (wouldn’t it be great to have a vegetable garden, well lets just make do with some alfalfa sprouts on the window sill, vegetable gardens never work), and after years of being thwarted at every corner on your road to lifelong bliss, you finally find a happy medium where you expect to not trust anything or anyone, then those brief glimmers of happiness seem so much brighter for the fact that you really didn’t expect them. Maybe it is just the mechanism in the brain responsible for teaching you – if you get burnt, don’t touch the fire.

So we don’t touch the fire, we don’t allow ourselves to trust friends, or infomercials, we even expect our families to disappoint us in some way, and we stop believing in magic. We keep sailing, disenchanted and nursing an almost crippling certainty that everyone we meet will eventually lie to us, the chicken in our store-bought sushi will be full of salmonella and our Facebook page will be viewed by strangers with ill intentions if we don’t follow every privacy warning popping up on our screen. And here is where I think we are going wrong.

Everyone has read Rhonda Byrnes “The Secret” right? Well actually I haven’t, but I did see the episode of Oprah where she interviewed the Author, so I figure I know as much as I need to know. How many times have you said to your child, “don’t get that white shirt dirty like you always do,” only to discover three seconds later the blue paint has somehow ended up everywhere, white shirt included. It has happened to me, and I marvelled at the fact they managed to get through a whole twenty minutes of paint play without an incident and the minute I make known my expectations of a mess, it happens. If this particular example hasn’t happened to you, think of another time you just expected to drop your cup, or have a bad hair day. Surely our expectations of bad things happening are some kind of catalyst to their eventuating. At this moment I can almost guarantee you someone somewhere is thinking bad things are going to happen to this planet, and everybody in some way, expects the economy or the ecological balance of Earth is about to take a major plummet and destroy life as we know it. So I say STOP IT. If we all think only good things will happen then maybe, just maybe they will.

So here’s what I think we should all do – stop watching current affairs programs warning us of the health dangers of airline food, dress our children in white, introduce yourself to your neighbours and buy a lottery ticket. Expect it all to work out, and it will – and if it doesn’t, well I’ll just be one more person to add to your “do not believe a word she says” list, and the fact of the matter, is that I’m most likely already there anyway, so really you’re not losing anything at all are you!


~ by Alissa Anderton on March 2, 2010.

2 Responses to “The progression from innocence to cynicism.”

  1. I hope I’m not cynical when I eventually grow up Mrs Anderton!
    I agree though.
    Especially about the chicken, salmonella point.
    One night, after a drink or two, I roasted a chicken. After it was done, I ate it and enjoyed it thoroughly.
    It was only the next day that I got a little worried, because sitting on the kitchen sink was an almost completely raw chicken carcass that seemed even then to be dripping blood.
    I suffered some liquid bowel movements and went on with my day.
    Mind over matter.
    If I don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter.

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