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Recharging our sense of idealism: concluding thoughts.

One of the goals of this special section on social justice counseling, education, and advocacy is to expand your thinking about the complementary nature of humanistic principles and social justice counseling and advocacy practices. There is another goal that we hope to accomplish in publishing this journal issue. That is, we hope that your sense of idealism has been recharged as a result of reading the articles included in this special section of the journal. After all, idealism is the Vitamin C that sustains one's commitment to implementing humanistic principles and social justice practices in our work as counselors and educators.

Homan (2004) described the importance of idealism as it relates to our work in the following way:
   Idealism is the belief that things could be better, should be
   better, and that an individual can play a part in making them
   better. This is not easy. Idealism requires faith, commitment, and
   courage. There is certainly an imposing array of forces to push
   back against a belief in a higher purpose. Greed, corruption,
   selfishness, deceit, professional jealousy and their kin are real,
   and they easily discourage the faint of heart. (p. 29)

The idealism that characterizes counselors and educators who are humanistic and social justice oriented will predictably be challenged by cynical persons in the lay public as well as other colleagues and students in our field. Homan's (2004) description of cynicism is useful to keep in mind when challenged by persons who are cynical about the work we do as practitioners who are humanistic and social justice oriented:
   It requires no challenge to be seduced into cynicism. Cynicism is a
   cowardly condition. It is resignation, a retreat from the test of
   principle. It is easy. In an attempt to justify an unwillingness to
   promote more ideal conditions for human development, cynicism
   argues for impotence. Cynicism turns away because it cannot face up
   to the demands of character. (p. 29)

It is easy to see how the authors of the articles included in this special section operate from different types of idealism as they write about ways to promote healthy human development from a humanistic-social justice perspective. We hope their idealism is infectious and helps to recharge your own sense of idealism as you join with other like-minded practitioners who are committed to build a more just and a healthier world.

We also hope that the new knowledge you gain from reading these articles fortifies your own sense of optimism in the important work you do as counselors and educators. The sort of optimism we are talking about involves tapping into your own imagination to create new visions of what can be better for our clients and students and then to implement interventions to realize these visions. If this special section helps to recharge your idealism, optimism, courage, and commitment to operate as humanistic-social justice counselors and educators in the future, it has served its purpose. And, if you find yourself operating in this way and someone says to you, "You are an idealist," take it as a compliment.


Homan, M. S. (2004). Producing community change: Making it happen in the real wm'ld. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Michael D'Andrea, faculty member, Seton Hall University, and executive director, National Institute for Multicultural Competence; Collette T. Dollarhide, Counselor Education and School Psychology, Ohio State University. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Michael D'Andrea via e-mail:
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Author:D'Andrea, Michael; Dollarhide, Colette T.
Publication:Journal of Humanistic Counseling
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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