I don’t know any of the people in the pictures and images I’m seeing from Egypt. I’m not sure what my connection to them is, or should be, or could be. But I am pretty sure that, yesterday, I was glued to Al Jazeera’s live coverage of what was happening in Tahrir Square – that means “Liberation Square” in Arabic, it seems — because I needed to be, and for me. A word like “Liberation” should not have become such a dead letter in my mind. I have become too cynical, too jaded, too hopeless. We become spiritually dead inside when we accept injustice, when we think that expecting it is “realistic,” and watching and being realistic about the world around me has made me a much more angry, frustrated, and bitter person than I would like to be, need to be. I suspect there are a lot of holy things I’ve forgotten how to dream, a lot of words for “freedom” that I’ve lost or misplaced.
Cynicism is an important tool, but you have to know how to deploy it. You can't just shoot from the hip at everything. There are good reasons for being cynical about the world, but they aren't evenly distributed. In my view, the people who use cynicism to best effect already know where they are most likely to hit their mark.
I think we always want to draw that line between the monopolists and the people. There will always be many more reasons to be cynical about people in power than there will be about people like you and me. I'm not saying there aren't any reasons to be cynical about people like us: we know them better than anybody! But there's an important difference: while power may chart a predictable course, we don't have to. So I believe it is always to our benefit to keep an open mind in matters concerning each other, and to try to contribute to one tendency as opposed to another.
Many possibilities evolve behind what we think we know, or what we think we can see. In this sense, cynicism is important, but limiting: it confines us to ourselves. I think this is why in most traditions of wisdom, salvation or transcendence happens in community with others. We can never place on ourselves the expectation of saving others, but we should never rule out the possibility that they might be saving us.