Realism vs. Idealism
Realism is defined as: the representation in art or literature of objects, actions, or social conditions as they actually are, without idealization or presentation in abstract form. While idealism is defined as: the act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form; or the pursuit of one's ideals. As one can see the two are opposites of one another. Realism is viewing things as they actually are, while idealism is viewing things as being the way one wants them. People argue that one or the other is better, but I feel a balance of the two is best.
Teddy Roosevelt is usually viewed as being a realist. He is identified as realist because many of his accomplishments were obtained by force and they were done without looking at future consequences. The Panama Canal is an example. Roosevelt basically stole the land for the canal. He was sick of Colombia wasting time and trying to cheat France out of its investment there; therefore, Roosevelt bribed the Colombian soldiers $50 each to lay down their arms, and he then helped create the Republic of Panama. Shortly after, the U.S. signed a protection treaty with Panama which said that America could control the land to build the canal if the U.S. protected Panama. The Panama Canal is an example of realism because Roosevelt went ahead with his plan without thinking of the future. He did not think about how the world would view the U.S. or about the many difficulties, like malaria, that would be encountered while building the canal.
Woodrow Wilson is perceived as an idealist because of his lofty goals and his strive for greatness. His 14 Points Speech is a perfect example of idealism. In the speech Wilson talked about free trade, self-determination, disarmament, freedom of the seas, and possibly the most important part of the speech was the League of Nations. Each of these points, or goals, is long term, and for the most part Wilson did not present a way to achieve his goals. Congress did not pass the proposal to join the League of Nations because Wilson had not included Congress in the negotiations. This is a trait of many idealists. They want to imprint a lasting legacy and think that no one else is able enough to help them get there.
There are upsides and downsides to both views. In short realists do not look to the future and idealists look to the future, but they do not have a means to get there. A balance of the two may be best. One can set high goals for himself or herself (idealism), and then have a realistic way of achieving the goals. If an individual leans too far one way or the other he or she can get into trouble. One may either lose sight of his or her goals, or on the other hand, one may no longer be able to find a way to reach his or her goals. As the old cliché goes, “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.”Grade: 10/10