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Ostomy Memories on Cynicism


A CYNIC is defined as one who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons. Permit me to point out that, as H. L. Mencken said, “The cynics are right nine times out of ten.” Years later, the great Lily Tomlin added: “No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.”
I suspect that Mencken and I arrived at a similar point in life – the point of cynicism – in different ways. He was a lot smarter than I am and was a cynic at a much younger age than me. My own perspective grew from having to observe the worst in the human animal over the years. Perhaps, in the newspaper business, Mencken did too. But this is how I came to believe H. Allen Smith was on to something, saying: “When there are two conflicting versions of a story, the wise course is to believe the one in which people appear at their worst.” Even with all this, one can still be a glass-half-filled person. One's sense of humor becomes an abiding life buoy. I suspect that, when you can't spot at least a modicum of absurdity and get a laugh out of a situation, that's when you're in real trouble.

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Hello HenryM.
I admit to have been a cynic from the first moment I was conscious of being able to ‘think'. However, I was never cynical about every human, because hiding away amongst the hoards were one or two individuals who bucked the trend and seemed genuinely unselfish. Thus, I am happy enough to go along with the postulations about the majority but stop short of tarring all human beings with the same brush. That is not to say that most of my past rhymes have not been about the worst of humans and their behaviour.

However, more recently I have been looking more on the brighter side and have written a book entitled ‘Laugh or Lament', where I suggest that we should be able to find humour in the darkest of places. Also, following on from a suggestion from Bob, I am embarking on a publication about ‘kindness' and there are several rhymes already written for that which capture the less than cynical concept that there are humans who can be kind, without an underlying ulterior motive.
So, with that in mind I will select fourof my up-to-the-moment rhymes as a response to your post on cynicism and as you may see, the first one begins with a note of cynicism before launching into the caveat that there may be also be some ‘good' people around, even if they are anonymous: 

Best wishes


There's some who make a great big show
so, everyone around will know,
because it is an obvious fact
that they have done a kindly act.

I'm not decrying what they do,
but when we come to think this through,
the adulation they expect
may well be devious and suspect.

Not all acts of kindness mean
the motives will be pure and clean,
as I have stated many times
within some of my ‘bully' rhymes.

Bullies exploit the ‘kindness' style
because they find it is worthwhile,
in efforts to manipulate
control people and dominate.

So, we must always be alert
to kindnesses bullies exert
just so they may get their way
as part of devious games they play.

But kindness that's anonymous
we may see as synonymous
with altruism at its best
and as such, I am much impressed.

Some kindnesses we come across,
will seem to have, as its ethos
a deep desire to do some good
just because we could or should.

There's no desire to play daft games
and fame does not become the aims,
plus, looking closely, it is plain,
they do it, not for personal gain.

                                                   Be Withers 2020


Anonymous acts of kindness are
like a bright light on our radar,
for, I think, we'd all agree,
they're in plain sight for us to see.

And yet, with origins unknown,
these kindnesses cannot be shown
or acknowledged by retrorse (pointing backwards)
to spring from a specific source.

This makes these acts, akin to love,
which tends to help them raise above
those acts of kindness that are done
to play a game, then say we've won.

I wish to try to document
within my rhymes, just what is meant
by altruistic kindness where
someone anonymous does care.

The covid pandemic has shown us,
there are kind people who don't fuss,
but just get on and do their thing
with scant rewards that this might bring.

Medics and care-staff do their stuff,
knowing it might not be enough
to stop the dying or the pain,
but they come back time and again.

Every day the danger's there,
and yet they still will show they care
by turning up for work each day
and not just for their normal pay.

I think we ought to bear in mind
they do these jobs because they're kind
and wish to do what they think's right
in what seems like an endless fight.

                                                          Be Withers 2020


I know we know who people are
distributing the tin and jar
from all the foodbanks which now are
to be found both near and far.

But who provides the food for these
kind people to hunger appease?
Who are the hidden majority
who help feed the minority?

Who are the ones who help the poor
when hunger knocks upon their door?
Who are the ones who'll give much more
than they have in their own food store?

There is an army of kind folk
who understand that to be broke,
means that you and your family
may well be starving gradually.

These kind people don't stand out,
and do not advertise or shout
about the kindnesses they do
but anonymously give to you.

When someone puts some money in
to a collection box or tin,
they do not do so for applause
but do this thing for a good cause.

Those times when you don't have a clue
who left that gift on step for you,
are also times when you were fraught
and some kind person gave you thought.

It's times like these, when kind folk come
and give to you a little crumb
of kindness, without any strings.
This just must be the best of things.

                                                    Be Withers 2020


I wish to show, so you will know
how little acts of kindness grow
from roles where care of others may
develop kindness day by day.

Those who care for, and about,
are not disposed to wail and shout,
but are more likely to proceed
according to another's need.

It matters not if they are paid,
for kindness is the way they're made,
and care like that cannot be bought,
but I believe it can be taught.

For kindness is an attitude,
which leaves us lots of latitude
towards those kinder folks to learn
‘it's what you do, not what you earn'.

Carers will go that extra mile
to help to see a person smile,
and that will be enough for them
to do it time and time again.

The caring role is not an act
that is just counted as a fact,
it's also all those little things
that kindness and attention brings.

It is a form of friendship where
the carer doesn't only care,
but somehow injects love as well
and this is when those friendships gel.

The love I speak about is not
the same love as a lover's got,
but something like esprit de corps,
which, once established, will endure.

                                                   Be Withers 2020


Wisdom is acquired on the journey from naivety to cynicism......


I love this!


Perhaps most folks are cynics their actions motivated by self-interest, but it is the selfless people portrayed in Bill's poems here that have brought more joy and happiness to this hard world. How can anyone be cynical about love, the most beautiful quality in the universe? Gibran on scepticism: "That man is a cynic, who sees nothing of life but its shadow".

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