The first thing we need to understand are the two concepts of idealism and realism. When we are comparing Russian people and American people these two concepts become very important. It is a different outlook on life.
Today we are going to talk about differences in mentality and idealism vs. realism is a big part of that. So, in case you don't know, idealism is when you think that everything should be ideal and you believe in some kind of utopian society or some structure of society that should be perfect. And you operate under the assumption that things should work this way in society. You believe that there is something perfect and that our real world can reach those perfect standards. This is idealism.
The opposite of idealism is realism. It is when people understand that nothing is perfect. People take the real thing as it is and accept it and work with it as it is. They don't try to work so hard to reach the ideal because there is no ideal.
These two concepts really explain the differences in the mentalities of American people and Russian people. We can see that, in a lot of situations, American people are more idealistic and Russian people are more realistic. Some American people when they travel abroad really show their idealism. They believe and vocalize that everywhere in the world people should do things the same as in the United States. They think that's what's right. And I am not saying it's completely wrong.
Both idealism and realism could be bad. For example, someone who is too realistic, we often call cynical. This person doesn't allow anything idealistic or even close to being idealistic happen. They don't accept that that idea even exists. Someone might tell you: it should work like this, but this is how it really works. This is a very realist thing to say.
The problem with realism is that it keeps our standards low and it doesn't push us to strive for higher standards or higher principles. The problem with idealism is that many people try to apply the rules that should equal a perfect society to other societies that don't have the same rules. So although the entire society might be working under one set of rules in order to reach a certain goal or something similar to a utopia, those rules don't apply outside of that society. And not only that, we know that those idealistic ideals and rules are meant to be perfect and nothing is really perfect. That means that we are always going to be disappointed with an "idealistic" society.
So, let's compare. According to American idealism there is a certain set of rules and a certain way of doing things that should equal success or a good result. You've probably heard before : "If you work hard, you can do anything", or "If you put your mind to it, you can do anything". These phrases really express American idealism. You might even say that this idealism extends to individualism where we believe that every individual can be anything. And sure, that sounds great, why not let anyone do anything that they want and become whatever they want? But in the real world we understand, that that can't happen. We need people to become doctors, we need people to become garbage men, we need a person to be the President. Not everyone will be able to do this.
On the other hand Russian realism is very limiting. It keeps expectations low and it limits people to only operating under the rules that have worked recently. It is also difficult because when the reality changes - life changes and these abstract ideals don't exist or at least not on the level that they exist in Western countries.
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