Does idealism have an expiry date?

Idealism, it seems rules high between the ages of 21-35, for most individuals. I remember when I was doing my post-graduation, I was burning within when I saw poverty, unemployment, distribution of wealth being unequal and so on. I discussed the aforementioned topics passionately and they plagued my mind constantly. I guess it does so for most individuals. While I did not involve myself in activism of any sort, I was quite in tune with the policies and other such things. Going by statistics, many revolutionaries also start during the age bracket of 21-24.

Many senior citizens, I know were quite fiery individuals who were highly idealistic and were active in what they chose to fight for. But as 35 sets in, the passion seems to gradually fade. What was spoken of in raised pitch and deep emotion in the 20s becomes passing nostalgia and fodder for conversation. What happens to the ideals that were held supreme while the personality was being formed? Does it always happen that the phase of “settling down” with a comfortable job and family extinguish the flames of ideals that were niggling the individual few years ago?

I guess it was plausible in the previous decades to have ideals, pursue and nourish them as long as one lived. The family members were also quite understanding and helpful. But the present time has fuelled a new kind of idealism which is the project of indulging the self and satisfying the personal rather than the community. Probably that is why today there are not many individuals who are worthy as role-models. We still quote individuals who were born decades ago as being persons who were fit to be emulated. For such individuals, idealism did not serve as a romantic illusion but became a goal in life. Maybe there are many such individuals who are quietly working somewhere.

But as for me, the fiery and angry persona of post-graduation days has given way to a sober and passive individual who still talks of those problems stated above but with detachment and acceptance.

S. Susan Deborah

She is an English Instructor in the Central University of Tamil Nadu at Thiruvarur. Having just submitted her PhD thesis on trangenders, she is looking forward to study more on alternate sexualities and identities. Writing is a passion for her and she is learning the art with each piece she writes. And, she is a blogger, immensely enjoying the journey which began in 2008.