Phil Friedman in Communications and journalism, beBee in English, English Writer/Editor - Marketer - Ghost Writer - Marine Industry Consultant • Port Royal Group 3 d ago · 3 min read · 3.2K

Cynicism As Positivity

Cynicism As Positivity


Preface:  I first published a version of this article on LinkedIn and beBee not very long after  the Producer platform was launched. Since then, I've had some additional thoughts on the matter, which I would like to share with you. Not to beat a dead horse, but because I believe there is a genuine truth here that is frequently overlooked.

We generally these days take cynics to be people who display an attitude of scornful and jaded negativity, as well as being people with an ingrained distrust of the integrity and professed motives of others. In other words, we take cynics to be those among us who epitomize a crappy outlook on life. Hold that thought... 

Cynicism As Positivity

In fact, the term "cynic" can be traced back to a school of ancient Greek philosophy, circa 400 BC. The Cynics of those days believed that one should live a life of virtue in harmony with nature. Philosophical cynics rejected conventional hunger for wealth, power, and fame. Instead, they sought to live a life free free of material possessions and shallow desire.

So you see, buried beneath a modern day edifice of scorn and seeming hopelessness, one finds a vault wherein there is room for optimism and positivity.

Wow, I don't believe I said that whole thing! Didn't think it was still in me, having left academia several decades ago. But get back on point...

Idealists envision how things ought to be, while realists accept them as they are. Only cynics compare the two, and rail against the disparity...

Cynics, I submit, are of the world, steeped in its realities, yet unaccepting of its shortcomings. They refuse at all times to go quietly into the night, but kick and scream and flail their fists — all the way to oblivion, if necessary.

And in our continual effort to prove them wrong, they are like an anvil against which a blacksmith's hammer forges a strong and useful tool.

Cynicism As Positivity

I am personally not a big fan of Reinhold Niebuhr's exceedingly well known and widely lauded "Serenity Prayer" because I believe it unwittingly provides justification in most people's minds for doing nothing about almost everything that is wrong in this world.

As I see it, Niebuhr was an unrealistic idealist to think it of benefit to counsel people to accept that which they perceive cannot be changed, have the courage to change that which can, and  the wisdom to know one from the other.

As any true cynic will tell you, if we had an iota of wisdom in the first place, the world would not be in the state it is in.

Cynics may disagree with you. Indeed, they may even be disagreeable. But...
that does not make them trolls, nor clarions of negativity...

We've just passed the beginning of the New Year according to the ancient Hebrew Calendar. It is a time for spiritual renewal, and a commitment to greater understanding. And in that spirit, I commend to you the true cynics of the world. For they may, indeed, be key elements in our potential to achieve something better.

So, hug a cynic. Or pat one on the head. Perhaps take one for coffee or a beer. Maybe even really listen a bit to what some of them have to say. Keeping in mind that cynicism frequently spawns positivity.  — Phil Friedman

Cynicism As Positivity

Author's Notes:   If you found this post interesting and worthwhile, and would like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. Better yet, elect there to follow my blog by email. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

Should you be curious about some of my previous postings about social media, you're invited to take a look at some of the following:

"Social Media Is a Highway, Not a Destination"

"Do Not Mistake What Is for What Should Be"

"Finding Your Way Past Self-Reflection to Action"

As well, feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other articles — whether on beBee, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to my original post.

About me, Phil FriedmanWith 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation.

In a previous life, I was formally trained as an academic philosopher and taught logic and philosophy at university.

The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve their thought and writing, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal with disagreement.

Cynicism As Positivity

To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Cynicism As Positivity                     Image Credits:  Phil Friedman,, Google Images

Cynicism As Positivity

John Vaughan 1 d ago · #51

#45 "... perhaps you should do something like what I've done ...." sez @Phil Friedman.

Thanks for sharing some examples of your past work, Phil. Very nice.

Actually, that's pretty much what I tried to do in Comment #41. It's is filled with links to my past work, including: a portfolio of clients, published articles, software, case studies, conference papers, explanatory articles, a gallery of creative artwork, "best practices" examples, explanations of process, university papers, (did I mention the masters in Ed Media - or the masters in Interactive Telecommunications?). It's all there at Well, actually, some more writings are at

Be my guest. Later, dude.

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Phil Friedman 1 d ago · #50

#48 #49 Thanks, Graham, for reading and commenting. And for the kind words --- which are especially gratifying coming as they do from a "contrarian". As an alleged cynic, I personally have great admiration and affection for contrarians, who likewise serve a valuable societal function, IMO. Keep the faith, and watch your six. Cheers!

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Graham Edwards 1 d ago · #49

#36 Thanks of the shout out @Phil Friedman... my working definition of contrarian is "You say black and I will say white" so we can have the discussion to ensure it's really black. Even if I know it's black, it's always good to pressure test it. lol

When it gets into the real world light you never know what it will look like.

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Graham Edwards 1 d ago · #48

This is a great read for any leader who wants to make better decisions @Phil Friedman. In my humble opinion.

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#46 Indeed...even the voices are fading...folks don't even want to speak up for change that is within the bounds of possibility. Cheers Phil!

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Phil Friedman 1 d ago · #46

#44 Yes, Praveen, that is very true. And the world needs all of them --- something I personally have never denied. What I do reject, however, is the notion that we should accept what we believe we cannot change. For as I've said, that is too often an excuse for not doing anything, not even speaking out about something that should not be. Cynics, in the true sense of the word, make people uncomfortable. And to my mind, that is their calling in life, and their function in the scheme of things. Thank you for reading and commenting, as you always do, with genuine insight and understanding. Cheers!

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Phil Friedman 1 d ago · #45

#41 Thank you for what, John? Pointing out I spelled a word wrong? Isn't that an OC action, for which no thanks are needed or appropriate. As to history, perhaps you should do something like what I've done to put an end to questions about my history, and for pissing matches. See below. :-)

"I'll Show You Mine, Then You Show Me Yours" ( )

And ( )

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So, between how things ought to be (An Idealist's preoccupation) and how things are ( A Realist's paradise); we have the Cynics. Whose full time duty it is to compare and rant at this disparity:) And then, there are those, who quietly go about making the Ideal, Real! But it would be an incomplete world without even one of these different kinds! They all inspire each other, don't they dear Phil?