“What’s the use of doing good?” came the instant retort.
I’ll end the report of the conversation there. Suffice it to say that Sharon was almost too stunned to respond. A few moments later, she related the conversation to me and we had a discussion about its implications, which are maybe worth sharing...
On one level, Sharon’s mother is right, isn’t she? You don’t have to do any good in your life at all. Doing good is, after all, not the same as being good, and isn’t that really all we need to do? You can be content to be a bystander and a passive observer of whatever evils come to pass in the world and there’s no comeback on you. Providing you’re not doing anything bad, then you’re not contributing to the bad stuff. So why be proactive and try to change things?
Detached uninvolvement is a state of being experienced by the vast majority of the population. They are comfortable with, or even actively enthusiastic, about their lack of responsibility. Helplessness stems from complete confidence in their inability to make a difference in the world. Victimology is de rigueur. To these people, my mother-in-law’s credo is a handbook for life.They don’t feel there is a need to ‘do good’ because even if they believed individual contribution would make a difference, that’s somebody else’s responsibility, isn’t it?
Here’s a truth that I used to share with people when I was a full-time developer of others.
There were once four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. There was an important job to be done, and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realised that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
Unfortunately, the world is beset by inequities and evils. The mindset which says it’s up to someone else to make a difference is one of the most corrosive attitudes prevalent in global society. The degree of selfishness, self possession and ‘I’m alright Jack’ (sorry - British phrase) attitude can never legitimise an acceptance that there is no need to do good. We all have a mandatory obligation to try to act in a way that benefits the highest good of all. Or in other words, there is an onus of responsibility upon us to try to do good.
So are you a bystander who believes it’s up to someone else? If challenged, can you point to what you are doing to make a difference?
Understand this: Right now, if there is to be even a remote chance of righting the wrongs that beset the planet, we need to be experiencing an attack of conscience, because we can do more.
Simply agreeing that “something needs to be done” is a sham. Merely ‘feeling concerned’ is a sham. Just talking about what ails the planet is a sham. The only thing that matters is practical action intended to make a difference.
Don’t kid yourself. You actively need to be doing good. If you want change, be the change. But don’t stop there. Influence others. There is no time to rest on your laurels or be self-congratulatory about how good you are.
Constantly ask yourself "What else can I do?"
The ONLY thing that will make a difference is you.