Realism and Idealism

When I speak about my vision for the world, I'm often labelled as an idealist.  

I'm never sure exactly what that means, so I ask a lot of follow up questions. What makes me an idealist? What do you mean when you say "idealist"? How is idealism different from the way that you interact with the world? What's the alternative to idealism?


From these conversations, here's what I've learned:


An idealist is "someone who forms and pursues unrealistic ideals". That word - unrealistic - that's the key.


Unrealistic, as in the opposite of realistic. Realistic meaning "pertaining to, characterized by, or given to the representation in literature or art of things as they really are".


How things "really" are.


An idealist "forms and pursues unrealistic ideals", a realist is "concerned with the way things really are".


Is seems to me that realists are concerned with the way things currently are, and they believe that the way things currently are has some intrinsic relationship to the way things really are.


I can not even imagine that world view.


I believe in the power and beauty of human beings, I believe that a greater world is possible, I believe in a world where all of creation flourishes together. I believe that every human being is capable of great art. I believe that human society can be built around community and creativity.


That's just one vision. If you don't like it, make up your own. A world where everyone wears polka dots every day - I don't care what you choose.


I do care whether or not you choose, though. Choose something. Choose a vision, and start building it.


If you look out at the world, don't like what you see, and don't believe that transformation is possible - my lord, how did you get yourself out of bed this morning?