According to Peter White, the much-abused term "idealism" "has several meanings and connotations, some of them contradictory."

"It refers to having ideals, which we applaud. But advocating reliance upon ideals often provokes resistance. Referring to a person or his proposal as “idealistic” is usually pejorative, synonymous with “unrealistic.” This is the sense in which the visitor uses the word.

In addition to these common usages, “idealism” describes a school of philosophy which believes that there is no physical reality. The world exists only in our minds; what seems “real” is but an “idea,” according to idealist philosophers.

I mention the philosophical meaning of idealism because, although it seems far-fetched, there is much truth in it. Whether or not human observation creates the physical world, it certainly creates the quality of the world. The world is neither good nor bad until human beings get involved in it, and the nature of the way we see the world becomes the quality we lend to it. Afraid, I see your interest as different from mine and I exude signals and take action that separate us and create fear in you. Lovingly, I see that our interests are the same; therefore, I share, serve and refrain from violence. In love, my actions and attitude create, heal and unite. They are consistent with the reality of the all-in-all."

White proposes that "inequity will decline when humankind perceives, in love, the reality of the all-in-all, instead of perceiving, in fear, separation. Here idealism and realism are one."

"The all-in-all is hard to accept because it is contrary to our preconceptions, but this does not make it untrue or unrealistic. The declining condition of the world shows that our way of knowing is not working. Therefore, we must be open to new ways of knowing. In Lincoln’s words, we must “disenthrall ourselves” from our preconceptions."