Are they mutually exclusive?
When our president touts his skill as a deal-maker can we expect him to also prioritize ideals? Is the nurturing of ideals by our leaders in Washington important to us?
Is a practical person one who recognizes that deals are imperative in life, while an impractical person is one whose thoughts and actions are based on ideals?
What is an ideal? The dictionary defines it as “a conception embodying perfection.” Idealism is “a behavior or thought based on a conception of things as they should be.” An idealist “is a person whose behavior or thought is based on ideals.”
However, the dictionary goes on to define an idealist in this manner: “Often used contemptuously to mean an impractical visionary or dreamer.”
In all probability exploitative or greedy practitioners of deals believe the latter definition fits.
But the question remains, are the ideals of justice, truth, integrity, honesty, morality, decency, honor, civility, trust, fairness, loyalty, reliability, genuineness, respectability and ethical behavior meaningful in today’s world?
Are these ideals worth our attention? Or are they antiquated notions that should be put to rest by impractical dreamers who know little of how the “real world” operates?
If the latter view prevails we may be well on the way to becoming a sick society.
To lose our sense of what is noble and honorable is to lose our compass and our course. We would lose the stars that guide us to a destiny that is beyond our self-serving, self-gratifying self-interests.
It is through our commitment to ideals that we have a chance of achieving the common good of a brotherhood or sisterhood in which love and care are extended to all. Ideals enable us to live with the hope that, for instance, racism will be eradicated, that freedom will be extended to all peoples, that ethical and moral behavior will become a part of our nation’s political life, and that honorable behavior will become the norm.
That these ideals do not presently have our highest priority should not dissuade us from seeking to bring them about.
And to begin, we must first elevate these ideals in our own lives then share their importance with our children.
We must let them know that a society’s best deals are honorable, personally ennobling and consistent with our ideals. We must also let them know that the common good of a society rests on the shoulders of those strong enough to carry their ideals into the arenas of business and government proudly and without apology.