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there is no happily ever after

You might think from the title that this is an apology for cynicism. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
Eventually, almost anybody attracted to activism and progressive and radical causes will probably realize that "there is no happily ever after." And probably, the sooner you realize it, the better. There is no final "revolution." Sure, revolutions sometimes happen, but they come and go, they aren't neatly planned and predictable affairs, and they don't necessarily lead to any cleaner or better situation in their wake. They are spasmodic and spontaneous, more like the human equivalent of an earthquake. And like an earthquake, there's a lot of cleanup to do, and nothing very attractive to look at usually, often for a very long time afterwards.

There is no final destination we can call a "better world." There is only the possibility to live a fulfilling human life in the here and now, and to hopefully leave things you touch a little better than you found them. Probably you'll get more mileage in doing that if you can find something you are really passionate about, can really focus on in a disciplined way, and achieve some tangible results with. It could be almost anything: organizing workers, saving whales, building a community center, painting, music, dance, science, and on and on. You can make some tangible, if modest, contribution to the sum of happiness in this world, including your own. Isn't that something to be proud and excited about? It doesn't have to be "the revolution"!

Finally, it is a much more empowering, optimistic, and heartfelt antidote to cynicism when you embrace modesty and pursue focused, attainable goals, than to indulge grandiose fantasies about future utopias. The sooner anybody attracted to such utopian visions realizes this, the better for their own sake and everybody else.

Utopianism is great as a source of initial aspirations and motivations, but then it has to become grounded in the day-to-day world, and the vision has to put aside, like a pretty picture you hang on the wall and enjoy, maybe in a place of honor even, but without indulging in too many daydreams of actually stepping into it. The picture may be pretty, afterall, but present reality, for all its imagined flaws, is quite beautiful too! You don't have to step into the pretty, idealistic picture on the wall. You can step into plenty of challenging yet still potentially very beautiful, real situations in the here-and-now. They are actually even better, for all their "faults," than the picture on the wall. That is because they are real, they are living, they are spontaneous, whereas pictures on walls are dead, static, lifeless, predictable, and ultimately, boring, no matter how pretty.

In such a way, absent such grounding in the present, the blind pursuit of "a better future" is actually self-defeating. It is a recipe for heartbreak, alienation, and ultimately, cynicism. There is no happily-ever-after. And it's a good thing, too!

As long as humans are free and autonomous beings, there will be conflicts and contradictions between them. Thank goodness, actually. If there were no contradictions and conflicts, there would also be no spontaneity, no autonomy, and ultimately, no life at all.