A skeptic is someone who is reluctant to trust and believe;
A cynic is someone who refuses to trust and believe;
A skeptic is someone who once trusted and believed and was disappointed;
A cynic is someone who once trusted and believed and was hurt, betrayed and traumatized.
However, inside all skeptics and most cynics is a deep abiding ache to trust and believe
but do so without the fear of being disappointed, hurt, betrayed or traumatized again.
Why would someone want to trust and believe again? Because to end up distrusting and not believing anything is not just to end up cynical, but to end up bitter.
This is the danger of what the upcoming elections will turn the electorate into, i.e. even more skeptical or cynical than they were before. Because of the economic collapse, job losses, the non-delivering on promises to get elected, the electorate has turned into the Peter Finch character from the movie Network and "they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore."
As a result of the candidates trying to appeal to an angry electorate and of the candidates not having specific solutions to a wide range of challenges that: a) make sense (i.e. seem reasonable); b) feel right (i.e feel sound vs. merely good); c) are doable (i.e. realistic and achievable given resources). And as a result of all of them not appearing to have the requisite "leadership" qualities and skills to engender trust, confidence or respect, they have deteriorated to sniping, finger-pointing and warning us of the dire consequences should their opponents be elected.
What troubles me most is that on election night, when the loser gives their gracious concession speech and enjoins their supporters to now give their full support to their opponent, what are we to think when a few hours earlier they were warning us about them?
I guess that is just politics as usual and you can't believe much of what candidates say before they get elected. We can only judge them based on the results they achieve afterward.
As for my skepticism and cynicism being fed by this whole process, I am committed to not give in to them.
Some years ago, I appeared on the BBC-TV's morning show regarding one of the "instant love" shows that predated The Bachelor. Taking me to task, they asked me if I really believed that such a quick and televised matchmaking could turn into lasting love.
My response: "If I had the choice of being naïve and believing that sometimes fantasies like this can come true or being cynical, bitter and British, I would choose the former."
Their response: "Will you stay available so you can be on another one of our shows in a few hours?"
I guess even the British would like to trust and believe again.
Follow Mark Goulston, M.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/markgoulston