This is one of my over used phrases with my children. There is a big difference between scepticism, which wisely used, is essential, and cynicism.
Take the recent tragic death of a nurse, involved in the royal baby Australian radio show hoax. The company that owns the radio station is making a six figure donation to the fund benefiting the family.
It is sceptical to say “I hope the family see the money”. It is cynical to say “I bet the hospital snaffle all the money and the family will see none of it.” I lose track of the number of times people assume the worst. Similarly it is possible to believe that some or all of those involved are genuinely sorry.
why does it matter? partly because how can we live always believing the worst (as opposed to, being moderately prepared if the worst happened). Why bother to get up in the morning? Partly because most of us are quite good most of the time. partly because full throttle cynicism destroys our belief in change, personal, social, political. Somewhere I like to think all those who thought apartheid would not be defeated, there would no advances in human rights, and that we would all be glowing radioactive cinders by 1990 can gather and moan about something else.
Quakers and Christians in general used to make hope their watchword.