Okay, maybe not all of it, but part of it. Shoot for all of it. Why not?
The terrible power of group dynamics
Several studies have shown that when people are in a crowd, they don’t help crime victims. Or they are much, much less likely to.
Why should I? they think. Somebody else will. There’s a whole crowd of people here. One of them is more capable, trained, not fearful, maybe even a superhero… So I’m not needed. I’m not good enough. I’m not responsible.
It’s the “somebody else will” excuse, and when there are other people around, we use it.
I use it when it’s just ONE more person around.
When Joe’s at work, and Lily creates nuclear waste in her diaper, I don’t hesitate. I get on that business as quick as possible because it’s foul and must be contained before we all die from the fumes.
When Joe’s home, though… Even if he’s busy… Or asleep… Or, like, outside, deeply involved in yard work… I’ll hesitate. I’ll look around, look for him, look for him to be more responsible than me. (Who wants to be responsible for poopy diapers? NO ONE.)
So there’s my own example of group dynamics and the temptation to blow off personal responsibility. Deeply touching, I know.
If you don’t, nobody else will.
The habit of telling ourselves, “It’s not my responsibility,” turns us all into perpetrators.
No, we’re not ALL responsible for fixing EVERY wrong thing. But we are ALL responsible for SOME things. At least ONE thing. When we buy into the It’s-not-my-problem crap, we quit doing even the one thing.
I believe we all have missions, callings, gifts. Even if you don’t believe in any sort of Divine spark or plan or destiny in your life, at least you can agree with me that we uniquely suited – due to our DNA, our personalities, our upbringing, our talents, our education, our experience, and so on – for different lives. You are only good at your life, and I am only good at mine.
And you are the best one for being responsible for what is in your life and what you can effect with your life.
Maybe it’s just your pet. Maybe it’s your neighbors, or a group of friends. Maybe it’s your family: a spouse, parents, a cluster of kids, extended family, strong friends. Maybe it’s people in your church and the ministry work that you do through your church to the poor or hurting or sick in the community.
Maybe it’s your colleagues. Are you the one who remembers their projects, asks about their progress, reminds them that the world does care?
Maybe it’s a mass of faceless, nameless readers.
Doing good means doing your best
It’s not about acting in guilt.
It’s about living wisely, in love.
It’s about realizing there’s more to life than logging as many hours on the couch as you can.
It’s about accepting the common responsibility we all have as members of the human race to improve the human race. We do that by improving ourselves, by being better, by doing better.
We all have a mission
How do you accomplish your mission?
Be the best version of yourself that you can be.
Set your expectations higher.
Change your habits. Quit selling yourself short. Don’t quit halfway again. Don’t give up.
Nourish the dream. Step into that risk and work it, day in and day out, and make it work for you. Be true and real and happy, even if you’re working a minimum wage job that you hate. Doing your best where you’re stuck helps you get unstuck.
Once you’re unstuck, you’ll know how to help the others, who are still stuck. Do it. Help them. Change one thing. Change one life. Encourage at least two dreams with how you live: your dream, and somebody else’s.
At the end, maybe you’ll get to look back and see shiny moments of glory, have a tear-filled moment of knowing you made a difference. Maybe you’ll get a medal, or a song, or a statue.
Probably you won’t.
But I consider that even if I can’t see a viable difference in the world because of my own life, I will be different because I tried. Maybe I can’t measure that effect, but I’ll know it’s there.
And that’s enough.