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Essay on Philosophy: American Cynics

Updated on December 12, 2015


Why are there so many cynics in American Society and what gives us such a commonplace yet negative outlook on our own people, government, and life in general? Is it our emphasis on success and over-all unrealistically high standards for living? Is it because our government makes bad decisions and continues to limit our freedom of choice and thought? America is a land full of problems, in need of serious remedy. Could we change if we were aware of what needed to be done? Some would say not. Even among those of us that are aware of these problems, there are many who choose to do nothing, placing a heavy burden on the caring few.


We all know that American society puts a great amount of emphasis and unbalanced priority on prestige and appearances: you are measured by how you look, what you own, how much you've accomplished, and how "successful" you are (which, ironically, happens to be determined by the latter). The "American Dream" itself is based on the conception that the more wealth and power you have, the more fulfilling your life will be. For those of us that were born into less fortunate circumstances (raised in poor families, neighborhoods, and cities) the "American Dream" is just what its name denotes: a dream. For those who value these ideals, being unable to attain them can produce a devastating amount of ill-feeling.

Government Manipulation

I'm no politician, but I am more than aware of how the government manipulates and controls its people through unfair laws, and how political leaders within certain religious factions impose their own beliefs upon the American people. With that being said, it's overwhelmingly obvious that not all Americans have equal rights: Homosexuals are prohibited from marriage, alcohol is legal while marijuana is not (mainly affecting minorities such as the poor and disabled), and conservatives have a powerful influence in both public schools and prison systems. For those of us who stand opposed, this can be very disheartening.

Problem Awareness

When I speak to others about the downfall of society, the usual response is a blank look and a quick change of topics. Most people don't want to think about it: if we are aware of our problems, we become more responsible for them. Who wants to bear the responsibility of an entire nation on their shoulders?

Among those that are aware, there are some that simply "don't give a damn." I once (important emphasis on 'past tense' here) dated a man that talked of how America was the new Rome: a great civilization fated to destruction. He continued, "And I'm not going to do anything about it. Smart people never do..." As if, somehow, his supreme level of intelligence was a justification for his decision! "The smarter you are, the more you realize and accept that you are powerless and can have no hand in positive change." Bullshit!, I say. As long as you are alive and breathing, you can contribute to even the smallest amount of positive change. Hey, death isn't even an obstacle! Copernicus showed us that.


This entire essay can be summed up into one sentence: "Scratch a cynic and you'll find a disillusioned idealist." In a country full of hatred and inequality, it is easy to lose hope-- which is what many of us have already done.

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