Beware of cynicism in old age

SATURDAY, April 29, 2017: I was at a wedding reception this evening and was sitting next to an elderly couple.

Their whispers to each other were downright poisonous. There was nothing they saw or heard that they did not comment on and each comment was cynical.
In case you are wondering what “cynical” means. It comes from the word “cynicism” and refers to someone who is pessimistic about everything they see or hear and thus makes mocking and sarcastic comments about them. It is usually out of a sense of frustration.
Cynical people are sceptical about anything and thus very distrustful. It is because of being suspicious that they produce the poison of sneering contemptuous and disparaging remarks. It is terrible to sit next to them at an event like a wedding. They spoil everything!
Even before the couple getting married arrived, they were already saying that they could bet their last Kwacha that the couple would come late. When the matron of honour arrived, the cynical lady said, “I am sure she just wants to show off her figure.”
The bride and groom arrived late for sure and the two looked at each other with glee as if to say, “You see!” Then as the newly-weds were dancing their way in, I heard the man say to his wife, “You wait…they will soon be dancing their way to the divorce courts.”
As far as they were concerned, these weddings were a waste of time and money. After all, they were sure that the newly weds had already been having pre-marital sex. So, why call the whole world to come and celebrate something that has already been consummated?
I sat there wondering what it is that causes people to reach such levels of cynicism. I am sure that is not the way these people were born. There must have been a time when they were optimistic about life and would give people some benefit of doubt. What happened?
The more I thought about this, the more I realised that we were all on danger of becoming cynics as we grew older because this world is very unkind. As we go through life, we encounter people who leave us with scars. These experiences turn us into sceptics.
Perhaps it could have started in school when a sexually-immoral teacher impregnated a schoolgirl that you knew and loved. Since then all teachers are sexually immoral and you will not trust them with your children. You would rather educate them at home yourself.
Perhaps it could have started in your courtship and early-married life when your spouse cheated on you. Since then, you cannot trust a man or woman. As far as you are concerned, they all have sex outside marriage, including even with maids and servants.
Yes, life leaves us with scars that make us pessimists. I remember meeting a man who upon seeing one of our former Presidents on television immediately said, “Bakabolala!” [i.e. “thieves”]. One bad politician in his life has made him think that all politicians are thieves.
It is not only politicians who suffer because of a few bad ones; even pastors. Very few elderly people are willing to trust pastors today because of very negative data about pastoral imposters that they have collected over the years, which is still embedded in their minds.
The problem with cynicism, however, is that it robs you of the joy of life and it causes you to be toxic to those around you.
The couple I was sitting with at the wedding reception did not enjoy the event and they made me fail to enjoy the event as well.
Cynicism makes you paint everyone with the same dark brush, which is very unfair. Some matrons of honour do not dress to show off their figures. Some young people still get married as virgins. Some teachers, politicians, spouses, and pastors can be trusted.
Sadly, cynicism also makes us distrust God as the people in Malachi 2:17 did. Their past experiences made them conclude that God no longer cares how people live morally. Let us beware of cynicism as we grow older. There is still a lot of good in this world, believe me!
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