Pernicious cynicism threatens all of us


Chris Kervick. (Courtesy photo)

It was bound to take a toll. As a society, we have been subject to a non-stop bombardment of political vitriol, unchecked media bias, misleading (at best) commercial claims and rampant on-line and telemarketing fraud. Those unyielding influences have turned the most pragmatic among us into skeptics and the naturally dubious into persistent cynics.

Cynicism is a defense mechanism. It is a way to regain a sense of control after one’s ability to trust has been eroded. Cynicism alleviates the need to put any effort into discerning which people, institutions or principles of science are worthy of our trust. To a cynic, none of them are. It is easier for the cynic to live in a perpetual state of outrage and denial than to admit that there is any good in the world or that there are any universal truths. Eventually, persistent cynicism becomes accepted as a substitute for wisdom. It is a poor substitute.

Cynicism becomes pernicious when it causes us to expose ourselves or others to harm. The willingness to undermine our democracy based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud is an example of pernicious cynicism. Unnecessarily exposing oneself and others to contracting COVID-19 by refusing to avail oneself of an available vaccine is also an example of pernicious cynicism.

In the 1981 Bill Murray comedy Stripes, a too tightly wound recruit Francis “Psycho” Soyer informs his fellow recruits that if any of them “touches my stuff, touches me or calls me Francis – I will kill you.” The grizzled drill Sergeant Hulka immediately and appropriately responds, “Lighten up, Francis.” Now is the time to heed Sergeant Hulka’s advice.

We do not know what Francis Soyer went through to bring him to his heightened state of mistrust, but we do know that we have all been through a great deal of trauma recently. Causing political division for commercial gain is a destabilizing force. Living a socially distant lifestyle runs contrary to human nature. These things unsettle us and leave us vulnerable to pernicious cynicism. But there are people out there who can be trusted. Not every institution is looking to take advantage of us. Truth exists.

A fair dose of caution is reasonable but it is time we all lighten up because the path we are on is a destructive one. Trust is an essential component of the social compact and of a healthy life.

Chris Kervick is First Selectman of the Town of Windsor Locks. This opinion comes to you courtesy of the Connecticut Mirror.


john flynn December 26, 2020 at 9:41 pm

Please explain; there is voter suppression in CT. 13 Ct residents ran for President; can you mane one? Who had 21% of the vote in the March poll? One candidate from Ct won the national digital Tv Phone Voter app debate. 23 networks had content. How many votes did the 13 candidates in CT get? Denise Merrill still doesn’t know. How many write ins came form Norwalk? Guess. Yes, it proves fraud. 1,137 candidates ran for POYUS. 285 Democrats, 168 republicans. Rocky Dele Fuente is not a Republican. he came in second against Hillary in 2016. %0 different parties had their own candidate. I ask you; who put a Democrat in the Ct election as a Republican to take votes from Trump? Rocky has his own party. How many votes did the local POTUS candidate get? Guess. Because the schools reported zero. All 13 CT candidates had zero? something is wrong.

Cris Bowers December 28, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Thank you, Chris Kervick. I hope your message reaches the eyes it was meant for. It’s a tired cliche, I know, but we really are all in this together, and we won’t overcome this virus without the cooperation and trust of the great majority of Americans. And we won’t heal our divisions if we can’t agree on facts. Exactly how we obtain that agreement, given there are those who profit by deceiving us and those who are eager to believe the lies, is the issue. I can only hope that truth will finally save us

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