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It's always sunny in Freehold? (Or alternatively titled: Idealism vs. Realism)

Observations from Freehold

"Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress." – Nicholas Murray Butler

Recently I've begun noticing some people using the term "idealistic" as a negative and it really got me thinking – is it better to be an "idealist" or a "realist" when it comes to Freehold Borough. Idealists are understood to represent the world as it might or should be, unlike realists who focus on the world as it presently is. For example…

  • 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?

To put it in more practical terms…

  • Should JFK have promised we'd put a man on the moon within 10 years though the NASA had only been established a mere 3 years earlier?
  • Should Steve Jobs have compromised his design and technological integrity when building Apple?
  • Should New York City politicians have panicked and sold-off portions of Central Park when the city was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 1970's?

In my opinion, to only aim for "average" cuts short the potential of humanity. Just because humanity isn't perfect does not mean it cannot reach excellence every now and again. And even though sometimes there is little guaranteed chance of success, that doesn't mean we shouldn't at least try. Failure is never a foregone conclusion and countless people in ages past have found it better to expend themselves heroically in a worthwhile, but ultimately impossible cause.

Simply put, I don't think Freehold Borough is nearly an impossible cause. And maybe when it comes to our town I DO tend to lean more towards the idealistic side of the spectrum, but is that really such a bad thing?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Matt March 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I think in society today we are too quick to put polarizing labels on topics so that we can immediately identify ourselves with a cause. Without being idealistic some of the greatest inventions wouldn't have come about. In fact, without idealism the greatest country in the world wouldn't have come about. I applaud Dan's blog posting because this topic can make him an easy target for people that are stuck in their ways to continue to mire in the "old ways." You should always think about what the best and most "ideal" way to do things and then assess what concessions can be made to make it a reality. Thanks Dan, keep up the good work. -MK
Vincent Fruman March 15, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I would agree with the idealistic approach to Freehold Borough. Why should we settle for average? Why can't we strive for perfection? Even if we fall short of perfection, there are certain gains and accomplishments along the way. I perceive this "idealistic" approach to be the "shot in the arm" that we need. There is nothing wrong with wanting the best for our families, our town and our schools. We need strong idealist leadership like this, not the status quo.
Paul Gallagher March 15, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Nothing good comes from average. We need to think out of the box, and always look to how we can improve, and how we can become better. What's the point otherwise? Because people want changes, and improvements does not take away from what is.....it only strengthens the positive, and make room for the future.
Michelle March 15, 2012 at 07:38 PM
To live in a community where the thinking is solely, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"...does that lay the groundwork for improvement? Sure, it's safe to stay status quo, not voice opinions when it may rock the boat, however how does anything great happen that could potentially improve our current processes, procedures and overall well-being? Of course those who are content with how things are going and are very complacent in their own position aren't going to look to improve an even bigger picture and frown upon someone with a fresh view. It may take more work in the beginning and a lot of uncovering holes in current procedures and policies, but isn't it worth it in the end to look at these things with a fresh eye so it doesn't go stale? Keep up the good work Dan...
Heather Xavier March 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I am proud that you are an idealist; otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Richard Berger March 16, 2012 at 02:20 PM
We should always try to attain what "should be." This is why art is so important to humanity. You can give to the world an image of what it might and should be.
Jane Healton March 16, 2012 at 05:22 PM
It's easy to pay lip service to idealism, to embrace the lofty goals when there is time, energy and breathing space to make the best seem a possible goal. When things are tight and you are gritting your teeth, that's when many people put their ideals away for a better day. It is when the budget is being shuffled into place or the agenda for the meeting is being written that there are choices made about what is do-able and ideals usually are the first to vanish. Eventually we get to a hopeless place if all we do is take care of the everyday and the business as usual. For ideals to lead and triumph we have to build consideration for them into our institutions and government bodies, we need to give them pride of place,
Kevin S. Patterson March 17, 2012 at 04:20 AM
I agree! Shoot for the moon and maybe you will reach the stars. I have truely enjoyed spending time in downtown Freehold since my teenage years, and most recently living in Freehold for 5 years. The downtown scene has so much to offer and can still offer so much more for many people to enjoy. Settling for "par" should not be in the master plan for this town. With the right ideas and people who truely care about the future of Freehold, something great can be accomplished. On a side note, BRING BACK CRUISE NIGHT!! I was proud to be a loyal patron of this event for many years and was sad to see it disappear. Events like this are part of the foundation of what makes this town a great place to enjoy!
Brian Sullivan March 17, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Very nice discussion. Per the question idealism vs realism, I think when looking at Freehold a healthy view holds a little bit of both. We do have realities that we face and have to deal with regardless of ideals. Some of those realities are actually very good things that we should not lose sight of. Most important of those positives is the very good people we have in this town. Yes, there are negatives too, which require that we look in the mirror as a town and seek improvement, be it the schools, crime or quality of life issues. The Idealism has its place because that is what will put us ahead. We should have definable standards that we strive for. As much good as there is in this town, I have a firm believer that the borough has far more potential than what we see. Our downtown is a glaring example. Yes, there is much fun there, but we can and should do better. We should not accept status quo thinking and we should always entertain brave new ideas. Kevin Patterson brought up a good point- BRING BACK KRUISE NIGHT!! The loss of this was a big loss and a huge step backwards for this town. With the exception of maybe the Memorial Day parade, nothing else put this town on the map the way Kruise Night did. Getting rid of it was one of the dumbest things we have seen in this town.
Jose March 19, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Great post Dan. Idealistic is a term thrown around by the old timers, who are hindering the younger families who moved to this great town in pursuit of our own happiness. I am in full support of someone who sees through the fog and stands up for what the modern freehold taxpayers believe in.
Ann Arbor March 21, 2012 at 12:49 AM
So, Brian, you speak for all residents who live nearby and were OK with all that noise and traffic? Getting rid of that was the "dumbest thing" Freehold ever did?
Patrick Henry March 22, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Idealism is what gives me hope that each day will be better than the last. Parents with young children NEED a representative that realizes that we're not here in Freehold Borough for what it offers us now, but what we expect Freehold Borough to be in the future. Face it, times are a changing, and we want our Freehold Borough leaders to change with the times. I'm a resident and an idealist. Sorry for being so unrealistic. Represent me, not yourself.

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