Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
– Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797)
“I don’t vote because my one vote won’t make any difference.” Yet the whole process of democratic government is founded on the collection and sorting of those single votes that “don’t make any difference.” It’s what democracy is.
“I don’t contribute to cancer research because my few dollars wouldn’t make a difference between solving the mystery of cancer and not finding the solution.” Yet every cancer researcher depends heavily on small contributions from individuals who don’t have much to give. Solutions are coming, but slower than cancer victims and their loved ones would hope.
“I don’t save money in the bank (or under my matress) because I can only put away a small amount each week and that way would take forever to build up. And banks don’t give you much interest anyway.” Yet the same person will borrow on a 30 year mortgage to buy a house or a long term loan to buy a vehicle. Contributing, one way or another, a little bit each week.
“I don’t coddle my child too much because I’m trying to make him independent, to help him learn that he will have to make his way alone in the world as an adult.” Yet young children desperately need that cuddling and coddling while they learn the skills, knowledge and ways of the world that will allow them to cope with the downturns of their lives and to excel when they have the opportunities. Too many children grow up to be like trees that lack enough roots to provide the security and nutrition the part above ground needs to survive.
“I don’t read magazines and books because no one can keep up with how fast new information is being revealed these days. And beside, my school days of book-learning are over.” They likely didn’t read a book in school either, except to fake the odd book report. With the rapid increase in knowledge, those who don’t try to keep up enclose themselves in a bubble that gradually rolls them into history long before their time on earth is up. They become living anachronisms who increasingly hate the world as they age.
“I don’t help those homeless people on the street because it just encourages them to not get jobs where they could afford their own homes.” Yet many of those homeless people were so neglected in their childh0od development that the adults in their lives never realized that they had learning problems, coordination problems, physical weaknesses, genetic diseases that would not show up until they were adults or a learning problem similar to a runner “hitting the wall” where everthing taught beyond that point will be missed and most of what went before will be lost. On the street, as begging adults, they’re just failures.
In a world of 6.5 billion people, no one person can make a huge difference. Indeed, our design as social animals demands that the only way we can be successful at building rather than destroying our culture, at improving our people rather than harming them, at creating peace rather than sinking again into war, is to work together.
Social animals can survive alone, but they can’t grow, can’t improve, can’t do what our species has the ability to do together.
Failures in life are not those who do not try. Those who do not try are a waste of natural resources. The real failures of life are those who are picking themselves up and looking to how they can build themselves into something new. That kind of failure is temporary. The never-try variety are the dead-ends of our species.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to gather people together to eradicate those problems that the dead-ends claim can’t be solved. They can if we work together and have the right tools and methods.
Learn more at http://billallin.com