Realism is a Dead End
Alone, used as a tool to improve the world,
realism is a dead end without integrating visionary goals.
October 15, 2017
By George Lee
We live in a real world where we have to do things like maintain shelter and our mental and physical health to survive. We want to at least have friends, a sense of belonging, see some hope that the world has meaning. These basic needs can typically overwhelm us on their own, sending us into unconscious behavioral patterns, coping mechanisms, and attempts to numb out.
Enter world problems like institutional racism, class inequity, climate change and perpetual war endlessly streamed to you in a mix of journalism and opinion. And today, it is increasingly available with new media, and increasingly demanding to edit between fact and opinion.
Result? Getting more overwhelmed. This leads us to increasingly cope, to edit, and to simplify as humans do. The draw of being, “a realist,” is a strong, popular coping mechanism in these moments. I use it, we all use it every day. However, alone, used as a tool to improve the world, realism is a dead end without integrating visionary goals.
A realist may say things like, “well, what do we do today?” in response to someone asking for something visionary, something a few steps ahead of what is possible in the present moment. The realist way of making decisions is a crucial part of improving the world. Realism is the skill of making sense of things and acting on them as they stand in the present moment. However, if one acts only within the rules set in the present moment, the conditions of the present moment (be they institutional racism or class disparity) will absolutely never improve. As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Visionary realism is a better option for those attracted to being realists. Realists can layer on and integrate tangible actions and tactics of their visionary world, and thus work to actually improve things rather than spin their wheels. Without integrating visionary genetics, realism is a paralyzing and comfortable straight jacket one wears voluntarily.
When those basic or imagined needs like shelter and health rear their heads, realism will offer its comfortable straight jacket. Realism will say, “You are being practical, you are working with the way things actually are, others are being unrealistic, there is no other option.” However, there is, you can be a Visionary Realist. Now, the next step is defining what you are visionary about and then acting on it.