I suspect most of us have heard the expression “Kumbaya moment”, generally used in a negative way to describe some event or activity reflecting unity, compassion, or humility. When someone applies this term in the customary derogatory way, you can be fairly confident that the detractor identifies himself or herself as a realist, one who sees the world as demanding strength, competitiveness, and the pursuit of self interest. By comparison, “Kumbaya virtues” like brotherhood, selflessness, and love will just cause you to get run over by the crowd. In addition, if you happen to be male, all that “squishiness” is unmanly and demeaning. It’s the stuff of little kids and old ladies.
In the political arena, the label of pragmatic realist is highly sought, while opponents are often identified as naïve idealists, perhaps well intentioned but still woefully out of touch with what really works. The operative word is pragmatic; what is it that really works and what work are we trying to accomplish? If the unbridled pursuit of self interest is the desired goal or work, then “Kumbaya virtues” are truly an impediment and therefore impractical. If, however, we consider the common good as importantt, then some “Kumbayaness” might redefine a new realism, one, perhaps, a bit more noble than our standard concept.