06 January 2008

Get Real!

I remember in Introduction to Metaphysics we took a quick look at Idealism and Realism - either everything we know about the world exists only in our minds or everything we know about the world exists independently of our minds. Thank goodness the following has nothing to do with any of that.

Are you starting to get tired of realists? You know the type. These people nay-say every laudable goal - and announce who they are with the catchy tag-line "Get Real".

"That project will never get finished - Get Real". "We'll never have enough money to fund that - Get Real". "No one is going to drive the speed limit, or put down their cell-phone - Get Real". "Parents have no control over their kids - Get Real".

Sound familiar? The idea behind this kind of realism is to look at the world as it really is - not what we would like it to be. Stop pretending - stop kidding ourselves - come back down to earth - that type of thing.

My problem with realism is that it tends to border on defeatism. That project will never get finished, let's not start it. We'll never have enough money for that, why bother with saving. People are going to drive however they want, no sense enforcing the traffic laws. Parents can't control their kids, why should they even try.

Here are some Hillsborough ones: The 206 bypass will never be built. We will never have a Town Center. We are never getting that firetruck. The mercury is never leaving. The Belle Mead Depot will never be cleaned up. GET REAL!

Fortunately in Hillsborough our Realism is offset by a healthy dose of Idealism. The idealists are the people who refuse to accept things as they are. The people who are working to make things better. People whose goals for the town are determined by their vision of the IDEAL Hillsborough. Not Hillsborough "as it is", but Hillsborough "as it can be".

Don't confuse realists and idealists with optimists and pessimists. Optimists and pessimists have the same goals, idealists and realists have different goals. Realists have "realistic goals". Idealists have "idealistic goals". When I took on this blog, an editor at the Courier News told me, "Ideally, we would like you to post five times a week". She could have followed that up by saying, "Realistically, three times a week would be great".

But she didn't. I don't know if that makes her an idealist or a realist, but I know what it makes me - a Hillsborough Idealist who probably should have told her to "Get Real!"

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