Idealism vs Realism
Behind these two isms lie the source of much conflict in the world today. Is it better to aim high, and not reach, or to aim at average and reach it? Is it better to be good or fair? Is it better to be optimistic or pessimistic? There are several branches in each of these categories, and no one side can be proven to be right in all branches. But what exactly is idealism and realism, and why do they matter?
The definitions of the two words should be obvious, but for clarity sake, they are given here. Idealism, according to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, means "The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form." In simpler language, it means to aim for perfection. On the surface, it sounds nice, but all this ignores the basic human trait, the one shared across cultures, languages, and races: imperfection. To be human is to be errant. Thus, the dreams of idealists often get dashed and projects they attempt often end either in failure or at least "less than they could have been."
On the other hand, realism means "the inclination towards literal truth and pragmatism" (ibid). It also means to accept life the way it is, and favour the practical method of dealing with it. This too seems to be a good trait on the outside, but it has some flaws. To only aim for average cuts short the potential of humanity. Just because humanity isn't perfect does not mean it cannot reach excellent every now and then.
There are significant contrasting plus sides to both. To be an idealist is to reach for the stars. However, idealists often become lost in their dreams, and forget the real world around them; and as a result can acquire an out-of-touch aura about them. Realists on the other hand are more grounded in reality (hence the name), and as a result are often better prepared to deal with it. However, as they focus too much on reality, they often aim lower than can be reached, only aiming for what can be reached with...