Last week I mused about people who like to say, “You all need to do this.” That made me think about something else I hear, even more often, that I wish people wouldn’t say: “It won’t do any good.”
It seems like in response to every call to action we have, especially ones urging everyone to get in touch with our representative or senators, at least one person replies with, “It won’t do any good.”
One problem with that statement, even if it seems true based on evidence, is that we don’t really know when enough of us urging the same thing might make a difference.
I think about the Hundredth Monkey, a critical mass theory. The way it goes is a bunch of monkeys lived on an island. Because they didn’t know how to open shells, they were unable to eat a lot of the ocean’s bounty. Finally a monkey figured out how to open a shell. That monkey taught other monkeys, and they all began to enjoy the sea’s buffet. Adult monkeys taught baby monkeys until everyone knew how to open shells. But here’s the kicker. After a generation or so (after 100 monkeys had passed this knowledge on), all monkeys, whether they had been taught or not, knew instinctively how to open shells. Baby monkeys were born with this knowledge.
Fantasy? Who cares? The Hundredth Monkey gives me hope. The idea of critical mass gives me hope. How do we know we can’t reach a critical mass politically? Not necessarily a critical mass that results in the same general knowledge for everyone, but a critical mass that can affect how someone else thinks?
The other thing about saying an action won’t make a difference is what’s the alternative? To do nothing? To feel, act, BE hopeless?
I choose action. I choose a positive attitude about political action ESPECIALLY when it seems useless. Your first thought is it makes no difference? Do what I do when that’s my thought, which it frequently is. Don’t give voice to the thought, and TAKE THE ACTION! It’ll make you feel better, and it’ll make the rest of us feel better, too!
And who knows? Your action could be the one that makes the difference. You could be the Hundredth Monkey!