The Only Kind of Idealism That Works

I’m an idealistic guy who tries to surround himself with like-minded people.

Community organizer Saul Alinsky was talking to idealists like me when he said that the first step to changing the world is this: “We must first see the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.”

Without a doubt, idealists are often guilty of seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses. It’s these rose-tinted glasses that make it difficult to effect real change, because your ideas aren’t grounded in reality.

I think that more people would dare to be idealistic if being idealistic didn’t come along with so much baggage. When you claim to be idealistic, you’re expected to prove yourself worthy of those ideals. That’s a tall task!

That’s why every idealist goes through these three phases of development:

Phase 1: Apologetic Idealism

Apologetic idealists are usually also foolish idealists. They apologize sheepishly for their beliefs, because they recognize that their beliefs are just wishful thinking.

Phase 2: Cautious Idealism

Cautious idealists are concerned about being perceived by others as overly optimistic or naive. They no longer apologize for their views, but they’re extremely careful about who they share their views with, for fear of being judged.

Phase 3: Fierce Idealism

Fierce idealists have both come to terms with and fully embraced their beliefs. Their actions are evidence of their beliefs, and they don’t care too much about what other people think of them. They’re much more concerned about making a difference in the lives of others.

As someone who aspires to be a through and through fierce idealist, I think Saul Alinsky’s quote requires some modification:

“We must first see the world as it is, but we must always have a vision of the world as it could be.

Fierce idealism—it’s the only kind that works. :)