Recently the word cynical has cropped up quite a few time in the news. A few cases recent and past come to mind. The shutting down of News of the World. The backing down from prosecuting DSK for rape. David Cameron criticising Rebekah Brookes for not stepping down when he wasnt decisive with Coulson, Laws or Lord Young. Obasanjo's regime in Nigeria, paying off the national debt during its last years in under the stewardship of Okonjo-Iweala; two people who sought to profit from currying favour with international finance bodies. All these were cases of people taking calculated actions to subvert the public consciousness and secure some advantage for themselves.
There is the notion that cycnicism is something that particular people with very specific personality traits is prone too. It is based on the assumption that by and large all people are, or aspire to be, altruistic and compassionate by nature. To be truly cynical you had to be a misanthrope. This is why people found Machiaveli's The Prince so shocking. It went against every notion of human nature that people held to be true.
Even though babies are born innocent and guileless their first human thought and desire is to manipulate and acquire. In short, they set off on a mission of cynical exploitation. Of their mother's breast, people around them and their environment. So as it happens, cynicism is instilled at birth. Therefore all human beings are cycnical by nature.
Rather than being the preserve of the misanthropic and psychopathic, cynicism is actually a natural human capacity that is triggered during significant events or at key moments. Its a natural defensive mechanism that all humans call upon when they feel their self image or status is under threat. People with low self esteem tend to invert the process but they still have that rich wellspring of cynicism. It just so happens its themselves they find so unimpressive. So they exploit themselves in order to impress others.
It may come as no surprise that I have always been described as cycnical. I used to think that I was a breed apart. But I guess am just a regular joe doing what comes naturally to all of us.
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