The War on Cynicism

As many of you know, our family has faced a number of medical crises over the past 2 years. My husband’s father, Bob, has been in the hospital since the beginning of this month and has endured two surgeries and numerous changes in status since his arrival. Some of the difficulties that he has experienced, we feel have been due to the care he has received. That of course has been quite a bit frustrating for us. I am starting to realize and appreciate that we experience the same situations and frustrations when we have a lesson to learn. As for this latest encounter with doctors and hospitals, it has made me realize how easily I slip into a non-helpful cynical mode when I am faced with something that I have little control over.

I am the first one who will tell you that you have to be your loved-ones advocate in a medical crisis. But what I have to remind myself very often of is to not be negative and cynical towards others when they do not meet my expectations and standards. Negativity never solves anything. Never, ever, and it makes you feel bad too! When we feel negatively about someone, they get that energy. That certainly does not help them do their jobs better. In fact, it leads to lack of communication, hostility, and arrogant attitudes.

I used to walk around looking at life as hopeless. So much violence, so much pollution, so much illness and death, so many self-centered people (I should have put myself at the top of the list, of course), it all seemed hopeless. Slowly and painfully (at times), I am learning that the world does not have to be hopeless. But in order to make effective changes, I have to focus on the changes I can bring about in myself first. I have to change my negativity, if I want to change the world’s. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2b Because our thoughts shape the world we live in. If we want to effectively fight the war on cynicism, we must start with ourselves.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes this process as “revealing your Hitler.” In other words, we all have this negativity in us. The only way to heal the world is to uncover our personal negativity and deal with it. It takes practice. And we are given plenty of opportunities to work on these things, if we open our eyes to see. For example, whenever I start to sense my part of a conversation switch to a complaint, I remind myself with a thought “complaining.” Or if I make the judgment, “He is arrogant.” I remind myself with the thought “judging”. The more we do this, the less we will have to. Eventually, your habits will change. We will complain less and less. We will adopt a judgmental attitude less and less. Eventually, our cynicism will cease. Once we get very good at identifying our negativity, we can then stop and practice giving the person or situation love and compassion. That creates real change in people at a personal level that then expands in ways we cannot imagine. By conquering these little battles on the home front, we are, in a sense, deploying a weapon of mass unification that leads to much love, compassion, and peace being spread around the world. Our family extends to those we once considered enemies, and world peace becomes a reality. To paraphrase Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, we turn our Hitlers into Mother Theresas. And we create heaven on earth.


“How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” –Psalm 133:1

“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to anything back.” –Luke 5:35


"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow man; and along those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." - Herman Melville


Most High and Awesome God, You have given us the choice. We can love or fear. We can love or hate. We can have hope or despair. We can have hope or be cynical. We can have peace or violence. We can have peace or war. Help us always see these choices clearly. Help us always choose love, hope, and peace. Amen


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