No, really – why… DO… anything…?

Woman suffering with eyestrain using mobile phone sitting on sofa at night

You can’t get more open-ended in that question.  Frankly, it’s cryptic and also maybe a bit melodramatic.  It’s the kind of thing you might see on Facebook, Twitter, or maybe Instagram – but without any other context it kinda makes you want to scream.  What is the point? Is it frustration, or some kind of cry for help?  Moreover, what business does it have as the title of a blog?

Hey! I’m glad I asked! (I’d say I’m done with theatrics, but not quite… there’s a point here, but I really want you to think about these next few statements.)

So, there was a televised event where some celebrity did this thing to another celebrity on stage and it was shocking and caused much uproar, and a lot of people were upset and talking about it. However – it still happened, and nothing is going to change it now.

Also – Some world leader decided to invade a neighboring country and start a war. This one involves people dying – yet still nothing the average person does really changes things.

(Bear with me – only one more… promise!)

There was this global event, and it caused a LOT of panic, and we really didn’t have control over it, but we tried as hard as we could to do as much as we could to minimize the impact.  I’m not really sure if anyone knows for certain HOW successful our efforts were, but it still feels like there was a LOT that was out of everyone’s control.

There you go. Three different events – three different scales. Everything from a 2-person interaction to a global occurrence. None of them were things that the average person had any control over, and for all appearances, not one of them are something that you or I could change.  So then why bother trying to anything other than stay alive, try to have a little fun along the way, and try not to be a statistic in one of these kinds of “things” we have absolutely no control over? Why DO anything?

Before I try to answer that insanely broad question… I want to briefly address each event. What was I referring to in each one of those instances?

The televised event… was it the most recent Oscars? Or was it the now infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction?

What about the invasion? Was I referring to the recent invasion of the Ukraine? Honestly without more detail, it’s kind of like – “just pick an invasion”.  (Which is a very sad thing to say for a race of intelligent beings with the kind of learning and technology we’ve attained since the dawn of the Scientific Revolution in the 1500s.)

It’s not unreasonable to match the global event to the term pandemic – right? But which pandemic?  COVID? The 1918 H1N1 pandemic? Or one of the other 247 known pandemics in recorded history?

Now… when I ask why DO anything?  Is there a slightly different perspective? In the history of humanity, we have been routinely faced with the overwhelming sense of futility when facing things that seem to dwarf us as individuals. The things I’m describing repeat every so often, almost like they’re just part of the natural order of the universe.  But what I want to challenge is this idea that we have no choice, and that we have no impact. In short, the answer to why DO anything is because history shows that we CAN impact the outcome!

Even in the instance of a global pandemic, a thing that we can’t see, can’t prevent from happening, and often don’t even fully understand how it works? YES!  There will always be things that happen unexpectedly, and sometimes some things can’t be prevented. It may seem that it’s pointless to try and change things.

I say – nothing could be further from the truth!

Consider the “great resignation” (which I assure you is both very real and still happening).

That is the result of average people deciding in large numbers to DO something. In this instance something VERY unexpected and VERY impactful. A whole bunch of people up and decided (seemingly overnight) that the organizations they’re working for don’t really care at all about them, and that they’ve got a better chance of meeting their basic needs AND getting some chance at better quality of life by just quitting and finding a different job or even career. And you know what?  It’s actually forcing things to change.

This is also nothing new. Again, throughout history, there are instances of people who decided that the status quo was simply not acceptable and did something about it. Certainly – some of these instances had profoundly negative consequences or made very little impact.  But many of them had immense impact, and many started with a single voice from a single person.  It takes courage and it’s frightening – I appreciate that, but if you’re feeling like something is wrong, or something needs change, or new direction, chances are that more people than just you feel that way. So, what next?

The answer? DO something. Honestly – do SOMETHING! Talk about whatever it is that needs to be better. Find the others who feel the way you do and talk.  Then if there’s action that’s needed, plan for it and DO it. If it means quitting your job, then do it. If it means organizing a meeting with your state representative to change a law, do it.

I would even go so far to say that if there’s a real need for action (yes, even talking) then the question isn’t really IF you should do something… the real questions are WHAT needs to be done and WHEN?

There will ALWAYS be these things… individual actions, national actions, global events… all things outside of our control, and all things that can be unsettling or even terrifying.  However, for every single one of these things… EVENTUALLY, the reaction, the response, the… reckoning, if you will – becomes a force of its own and drives change and resolution. How quickly and what kind of change or resolution? That is in part determined by the actions of those who choose to DO something, and by the when and what they choose to do.

In EVERY case though, the outcome depends largely on the people who DO. Want to see a change in the world? Great! Start by being that change, and then talk with others who also want to be that change.

Just a few words of caution… If the initial event was big enough and traumatic enough – the response frequently is rapid, visceral, and may not be well-organized or controlled. So be wary of strong emotionally charged reactions.  I’m not saying don’t DO. I’m saying if your inner voice is screaming at you to jump out of your seat and slap someone – maybe hold your breath and count to 30… or go grab a handful of ice-cold water and throw it on your face. If you DO base on the heat of the moment – it very often doesn’t go in a way that you’d like. But when enough people decide that it’s time to DO. It has the potential to change the world.

Again, why the appeal to every individual to DO?

Simply put – (and I’ve already said this once…) almost every major movement or accomplishment begins with a small group or even a single person. Not everyone has the drive and the desire to DO, but many people feel the same sense of needed change, and will offer support to the one who makes the choice to DO.  The appeal is to remind us that we each contribute according to our abilities and gifts. For some that gift is listening, or encouraging, so when it’s time to be involved you can still play a valuable role even if you aren’t the one to actually get things rolling. But if you ARE that person… if you carefully consider what you want to DO, and make certain that it is ethically and morally aligned… then by all means talk about it, get some support, and then DO. It’s how we shape and build our future.  Frankly, it’s how we ensure that there IS a future for out kids and grandkids!