Idealists are people who believe in the potential of human nature for transformation. . . . The most essential attribute of human nature is its mutability and freedom from instinct . . . it is always within our power to change our nature. So it is actually the idealists who are on the mark and the realists who are off base.
M. Scott Peck
The debacle in Iraq has reinforced the realist dictum, disparaged by idealists in the 1990s, that the legacies of geography, history and culture really do set limits on what can be accomplished in any given place. But the experience in the Balkans reinforced an idealist dictum that is equally true: One should always work near the limits of what is possible rather than cynically give up on any place. In this decade idealists went too far; in the previous one, it was realists who did not go far enough.
Robert D. Kaplan
As thinkers, mankind has ever divided into two sects, Materialists and Idealists; the first class founding on experience, the second on consciousness; the first class beginning to think from the data of the senses, the second class perceive that the senses are not final and say, The senses give us representations of things, but what are the things themselves, they cannot tell. The materialist insists on facts, on history, on the force of circumstances and the animal wants of man; the idealists on the power of Thought and Will, on inspiration, on miracle, on individual culture.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
All idealists imagine that the causes they serve are fundamentally better than any other causes in the world, and they refuse to believe that if their cause is to flourish at all it requires precisely the same foul-smelling manure that is necessary to all other human undertakings.
Contrasting British servicemen and women with the appeasers, it is hard not to laugh. Are these two sides even the same species, let alone the same nationality? On one hand the selflessness and internationalism of the soldiers; on the other the Whites-First isolationism of the protesters. Excuse me, who are the idealists here?
I always want to tell these young idealists that the world is not as dangerous as many in the older generation want them to believe...The [people] for whom I feel the greatest sadness are the ones who choke on their beliefs, who never act on their ideals, who never know the state of struggle in a decent cause, and never know the thrill of even partial victories.
It isn't a circle--it is simply a long line--as in geometry, you know, one that reaches into infinity. And because we cannot see the end--we also cannot see how it changes. And it is very odd by those who see the changes--who dream, who will not give up--are called idealists...and those who see only the circle we call them the "realists"!
Honor to the idealists, whether philosophers or poets. They have improved us by mingling with our daily pursuits great and transcendent conceptions. They have thrown around our sensual life the grandeur of a better, and drawn us up from contacts with the temporal and the selfish to communion with beauty and truth and goodness.
Edwin Hubbel Chapin
Some people are pragmatists, taking things as they come and making the best of the choices available. Some people are idealists, standing for principle and refusing to compromise. And some people just act on any whim that enters their heads. I pragmatically turn my whims into principles.
Men can absent themselves from real life for their art more easily. Women are anchored into the quotidian business of getting food on the table, making sure everybody's socks match, the soccer gear is ready. I admire idealists, but they're usually enabled by someone who holds the tether on their balloon, who pays the bills and sweeps up after them.
Anyone too undisciplined, too self-righteous or too self-centered to live in the world as it is has a tendency to idealize a world which ought to be. But no matter what political or religious direction such idealists choose, their visions always share one telling characteristic: in their utopias, heavens or brave new worlds, their greatest personal weakness suddenly appears to be a strength.
David James Duncan
Our dreams of bringing the whole of human history under the control of the human will are ironically refuted by the fact that no group of idealists can easily move the pattern of history toward the desired goal of peace and justice. The recalcitrant forces in the historical drama have a power and persistence beyond our reckoning.
Law is an imperfect profession in which success can rarely be achieved without some sacrifice of principle. Thus all practicing lawyers -- and most others in the profession -- will necessarily be imperfect, especially in the eyes of young idealists. There is no perfect justice, just as there is no absolute in ethics. But there is perfect injustice, and we know it when we see it.
[I]n contrast to the common belief that they are the world's greatest cynics, the best journalists are the world's great idealists. They have experienced firsthand the great soothing balance of human existence. For every disgrace there is triumph, for every wrong there is a moment of justice, for every funeral a wedding, for every obituary a birth announcement.
Our idealists must own that their velleity to abolish all suffering is most fully expressed in the Fifth Wisdom of Lamaism, the doctrine that teaches that "no durable happiness, nor yet security, for any sentient being can exist while others are a prey to suffering." That truth cannot be questioned and you may take it to heart: in practical terms it means we got ourselves born on the wrong planet -- in the wrong universe.
Revilo P. Oliver
We do not like the truth because it is simple, we do not want the truth because it is hard, and we do not trust the truth because it is free. Perhaps because many are idealists and publishing is so frustrating, writers are particularly vulnerable to believing in those who offer hope in exchange for cash. Writers know life is tough and we all want to think of an easier way. Maybe for a rare few, there is. If you count on that, you are a chump and somebody is going to take your money and break your heart.
Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
Robert A. Heinlein
Not ordinarily do men achieve this balance of opposites. The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic. The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant. Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self assertive humble... truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis that reconciles the two.
Martin Luther King Jr.
[W]e must first experience the kingdom if we are even to know what kind of freedom and what kind of equality we should desire. Christian freedom lies in service, Christian equality is equality before God, and neither can be achieved through the coercive efforts of liberal idealists who would transform the world into their image.
When I say that terrorism is war against civilization, I may be met by the objection that terrorists are often idealists pursuing worthy ultimate aims -- national or regional independence, and so forth. I do not accept this argument. I cannot agree that a terrorist can ever be an idealist, or that the objects sought can ever justify terrorism. The impact of terrorism, not merely on individual nations, but on humanity as a whole, is intrinsically evil, necessarily evil and wholly evil.
For over a century, an evolving microcosm of Anthropology's turbulent history has hidden behind the staid fae§ade of the American Museum of Natural History. From an insider's perspective, the well-known ethnologist Stan Freed engagingly introduces us to an amazing cast of explorers, eccentrics, idealists, pranksters and forbidding intellectual - an unlikely mix that played a key role in establishing the science of Anthropology as we know it today.
[Some] people really expect the passion of love to fill and gratify every need of life, whereas nature only intended that it should meet one of many demands. They insist on making it stand for all the emotional pleasures of life and art; expecting an individual and self-limited passion to yield infinite variety, pleasure, and distraction, and to contribute to their lives what the arts and the pleasurable exercise of the intellect gives to less limited and less intense idealists.
The great crimes of the twentieth century were committed not by money-grubbing capitalists but by dedicated idealists. Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler were contemptuous of money. The passage from the nineteenth to the twentieth century has been a passage from considerations of money to considerations of power.
All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly which can - and must - be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function. As racial survival is the only universal morality, no other basic is possible. Attempts to formulate a "perfect society" on any foundation other than "Women and children first!" is not only witless, it is automatically genocidal. Nevertheless, starry-eyed idealists (all of them male) have tried endlessly - and no doubt will keep trying.
Robert A. Heinlein
You Europeans know nothing about America. Because we amass large fortunes you think we care for nothing but money. We are nothing for it; the moment we have it we spend it, sometimes well, sometimes ill, but we spend it. Money is nothing to us; it's merely the symbol of success. We are the greatest idealists in the world; I happen to think that we've set our ideal on the wrong objects; I happen to think that the greatest ideal man can set before himself is self-perfection.
W. Somerset Maugham
There are no idealists in the plant world and no compassion. The rose and the morning glory know no mercy. Bindweed, the morning glory, will quickly choke its competitors to death, and the fencerow rose will just as quietly crowd out any other plant that tried to share its roothold. Idealism and mercy are human terms and human concepts.
They always believe that 'things are in a bad way now, ' but they 'haven't any faith in these idealists.' One minute they call Wilson 'just a dreamer, not practical'- a year later they rail at him for making his dreams realities. They haven't clear logical ideas on one single subject except a sturdy, stolid opposition to all change. They don't think uneducated people should be highly paid, but they won't see that if they don't pay the uneducated people their children are going to be uneducated too, and we're going round and round in a circle. That- is the great middle class.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
They always believe that 'things are in a bad way now,' but they 'haven't any faith in these idealists.' One minute they call Wilson 'just a dreamer, not practical'- a year later they rail at him for making his dreams realities. They haven't clear logical ideas on one single subject except a sturdy, stolid opposition to all change. They don't think uneducated people should be highly paid, but they won't see that if they don't pay the uneducated people their children are going to be uneducated too, and we're going round and round in a circle. That- is the great middle class.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Talk of world peace is heard today only among the white peoples, and not among the much more numerous coloured races. This is a perilous state of affairs. When individual thinkers and idealists talk of peace, as they have done since time immemorial, the effect is negligible. But when whole peoples become pacifistic it is a symptom of senility. Strong and unspent races are not pacifistic. To adopt such a position is to abandon the future, for the pacifist ideal is a terminal condition that is contrary to the basic facts of existence. As long as man continues to evolve, there will be wars...
When I see the mostly young people of Occupy Wall Street - a mixture of the bored, the nihilistic, the seekers of excitement, the left-wing true believers, the confused idealists and those hoping to engage in violence - railing against the rich capitalists on Wall Street, I get worried. Because the hatred they express toward the rich is similar to that expressed against the rich by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Of course, these people are not comparable to those killers. But class hatred must lead to bad things. That is why President Obama is playing with fire with his attacks on the rich.
Hate Poem I hate you truly. Truly I do. Everything about me hates everything about you. The flick of my wrist hates you. The way I hold my pencil hates you. The sound made by my tiniest bones were they trapped in the jaws of a moray eel hates you. Each corpuscle singing in its capillary hates you. Look out! Fore! I hate you. The blue-green jewel of sock lint I'm digging from under by third toenail, left foot, hates you. The history of this keychain hates you. My sigh in the background as you explain relational databases hates you. The goldfish of my genius hates you. My aorta hates you. Also my ancestors. A closed window is both a closed window and an obvious symbol of how I hate you. My voice curt as a hairshirt: hate. My hesitation when you invite me for a drive: hate. My pleasant 'good morning': hate. You know how when I'm sleepy I nuzzle my head under your arm? Hate. The whites of my target-eyes articulate hate. My wit practices it. My breasts relaxing in their holster from morning to night hate you. Layers of hate, a parfait. Hours after our latest row, brandishing the sharp glee of hate, I dissect you cell by cell, so that I might hate each one individually and at leisure. My lungs, duplicitous twins, expand with the utter validity of my hate, which can never have enough of you, Breathlessly, like two idealists in a broken submarine.