"But what is the matter with idealism? What really is idealism? Do one-tenth of those who use the phrase so glibly know it's true meaning, the part it has played in the world? The worthy interpretation of an ideal is that it embodies an idea--a conception of the imagination. All ideas are at first ideals. They must be. The producer brings forth an idea, but some dreamer has dreamed it before him either in whole or in part.
Where would the human race be were it not for the ideals of men? It is idealists, in a large sense, that this old world needs to-day. Its soil is sadly in need of new seed. Washington, in his day, was decried as an idealist. So was Jefferson. It was commonly remarked of Lincoln that he was a 'rank idealist'. Morse, Watt, Marconi, Edison--all were, at first, adjusted idealists. We say of the League of Nations that it is ideal, and we use the term in a derogatory sense. But that was exactly what was said of the Constitution of the United States. 'Insanely ideal' was the term used of it.
The idealist, particularly to-day when there is so great need of him, is not to be scoffed at. It is through him and only through him that the world will see a new and clear vision of what is right. It is he who has the power of going out of himself--that self in which too many are nowadays so deeply imbedded; it is he who, in seeking the ideal, will, through his own clearer perception or that of others, transform the ideal into the real. 'Where this is no vision, the people perish.'." ~from The Americanization of Edward Bok, by Edward Bok