Monday, September 14, 2009

On idealism and pragmatism

I'd post this on the website where this was first posted, but the comment section is turned off.

The always thought-provoking MadPriest wrote:

I am not ashamed of being an idealist.

Ideally we would all be idealists.

"Pragmatism" is just a fancy word for giving in and letting them get away with it again.

This got posted (I believe) in part in response to an ongoing discussion about health care reform in the U.S. with me (among others) thinking that the proposed legislation isn't ideal but probably pragmatic, given our current political climate.

Personally, I think idealism is at its most powerful--in fact, I think it is only effective--when it is married to pragmatism. Idealism is where do we want to get to; pragmatism is what steps do we need to take to get there. Otherwise, idealism is just wishful thinking.

Idealism by itself is not guarantee that the goal is either good or achievable. I think George W. Bush was an idealist. He wanted to export American(-style) democracy to the Middle East. Pragmatically, I'm not sure bombing the crap out of locals is the best way to get there.

MadPriest is a great example of a person who has connected his idealism with pragmatism. His blog is an incredible forum for changing hearts and minds, for bringing to the fore both flaws and heroes. He personally went to the trouble of contacting church leaders to ask what they plan to do to stop the implementation of the Anglican covenant (which would make some churches second class citizens) and has done a lot to see that progressing church leaders "get off their arses pretty damn quick and do something to stop the covenant now." I don't think pragmatism is a fancy word for giving in; I think it's a fancy work for getting off your arse and doing something about it.

I hope I am an idealistic pragmatist--or a pragmatic idealist. I'm not sure I really care, just as long as I can help move things forward so that they more resemble the Kingdom of God.

1 comment:

bali travel said...

I liked that as much, but in a different way than, the game where you spend 10 minutes in a graveyard waiting to die. It should be some sort of odd genre! On a side note I'm not sure if I quite like the use of the wife as part of this guy's personal hell. Maybe if he remarried...?