Cynic: Life sucks.
Optimist: Why do you say that?
Cynic: For the same reason that Nietzsche said: “To live is to suffer.”
Optimist: Yes, but he also said, if you’d care to quote him in context: “To survive is to find meaning in suffering.”
Cynic: But that’s exactly my point. You’re still going to suffer. Who cares if you’ve found meaning in suffering; you’re still suffering.
Optimist: But without this suffering, there’s no beauty, or love, or magic, either. Suffering and love are not necessarily separate. The two can co-exist, and at times, they can exist simultaneously.
Cynic: Yeah, but the suffering, for most of us, far outweighs the love. Just look around. We’re living in a world of living zombies. We’re living in a world of suffering.
Optimist: That maybe so, but it in this same world where exists light and love. Light and darkness are dependent on each other to shine their own beams.
Cynic: So? That doesn’t address my point. There’s more suffering than love. What’s the point of kicking on?
Optimist: Just because this may be true on a collective scale, why should it be true for you, personally?
Cynic: Why? Because we’re a product of our circumstances. Everything about us, from our genes to our personalities, is crafted from our environments. We are the result of our environment. We are a product of suffering.
Optimist: So you’re telling me that if you were stuck in a pit of quick sand, you’d throw up your hands in defeat, and submit yourself to a timely death?
Optimist: You just said that we’re a product of our circumstances, of our environments, and that our environment is one of natural suffering. By that logic then, hypothetically, if you were caught in a pit of quicksand, you should just give up. Let your environment make what it will of you. But in reality, you wouldn’t do that. You’d fight. You’d fight with all your strength to release yourself from the sand’s grip. You’d choose survival. You’d choose life.
Cynic: That hypothetical is stupid. We’re not talking about a pit of sand here. Life, in its entirety, is that pit of sand. And there’s no escaping it, except through death. Because once you’ve hurdled over your immediate pit of sand, you’re destined to fall into another, and then another, and another. Tis the misery of life. It is life. Life is suffering; to live is to suffer.
A short silence swells.
Cynic: *laughing* You don’t have anything to say to that, do you, Mr Optimistic?
Optimist: Does it even matter what I say?
Optimist: No matter what I say, you’re going to find a way to turn to turn it into a grand tragedy.
Cynic: *Chuckling* Yeah, well no matter what I say, you’ll just pretend that it smells like roses.
Optimist: How so?
Cynic: *enters into his mind*
Again, a short silence swells.
Optimist: I haven’t said that life is all roses and beauty. I haven’t said that love conquers fear, or that good will always prevail over evil.
I haven’t said anything of the sort.
Cynic: *scratching his head* No, no you haven’t.
Optimist: All that I’m saying is that life is as it is. Two people can see the exact same situation differently. We colour our environments through our own lenses. Wouldn’t you agree?
Cynic: Yeah, I guess so. To a certain extent.
Optimist: Well, you don’t believe that things are inhernetly good or evil, do you?
Cynic: Well no, no I don’t.
Optimist: So then, the way you see the world is effectively how the world is?
Cynic: Yes and no. The world is as it is with or without my perception of it.
Optimist: Exactly. But you have no way of knowing this world, without your own filter? Your world is shaped by you.
Cynic: Yes, and I try to shape my personal world to accord with the world that is.
Optimist: Exactly. But if, according to you, and me, the world that is does not comprise of good and evil, wrong and right, without the bounds of narrowly defined human constructs, then why would you choose to see it so negatively? Why choose cynicism over optimism?
Cynic: Because what is, is suffering. A cynical outlook is the most accurate. It bears the most reality. It carries most truth.
Optimist: Isn’t it also true that we’re most likely to find what it is that we seek?
Cynic: I guess so, sure.
Optimist: Well, if you’re so consumed with this misery, doesn’t this become a self-fulfilling prophecy?
Cynic: In a way, yes.
Optimist: Well, in a world that’s already so shadowed by grief and suffering, why would you want to only add to this already well-established world-view?
Cynic: What do you mean?
Optimist: If you’re so cynical about the world being plagued with such suffering, and you submit to the notion that the world is hopeless, and that to live is to suffer, then how can you be so sure that this is really the case, and not purely your interpretation of it? Isn’t this all just a cyclical, cynical, self-projection?
Cynic: You can’t be serious?
Optimist: Why not?
Cynic: Because. Look around. Think. Come on? Really?
Optimist: When I look around, I see beauty. I see love. I see joy. Sure, I see pain. I see suffering. Of course; that’s undeniable. But these two pieces – suffering and love, we could say – aren’t each other’s opposite, but instead, a part of each other. They are life. And personally, I’d prefer to live a life of love, rather than one of suffering.
Cynic: *scratches head* Okay, well, I’ve got to run. Let’s catch up tomorrow at some stage.
Optimist: I look forward to it.