I told myself that I wouldn’t blog for the next few days until my academic obligations are fulfilled, but there is a matter that has been brewing in my mind that I need to let out. After all writing has been my form of cheap therapy so here it goes…
A few days ago while I sat in traffic on my way to class, NPR had a story about what people say and what they do. A survey was asked regarding a person’s church attendance. The poll results showed a high percentage of individuals saying that they always attend church service every Sunday. Based on the results churches should be full packed with parishioners, however pastors and ministers beg to disagree with the results due to the actual attendance they observe. The story goes on to explain the case. When asked the question, “Do you attend church service every Sunday?” people perceived it instead as a question of “Am I the kind of person that attends service every Sunday?” Most people answered according to how they perceived themselves to be, instead of what they actually do.
The two questions may seem similar, but they’re not. In theory, people that go to church learn lessons of goodwill towards man causing them to do good unto others. People want to say they’re the kind of person that goes to church, or the kind of person that helps out, or the kind of person that does good. In a general sense, people want to be a person that does good for humanity. I may be naive in saying this, but I think people have an inherent altruistic side, we want to help others facing dire situations. However, simply wanting to help without the corresponding action to make it happen will be for naught. Desire is the first step into change, but further action is required to get there. Wanting to be a kind of person that does good and actually being a person that does good are different things; being good takes action and consistency.
Take for example personal statements of students aspiring to be, “the change they wish to see in the world.” I do not question the genuine intent of their noble motivation, but without the necessary steps to make “change” happen they simply remain as words. If there is no proof showing actual steps taken, then how can a person affect change? Although having an enthusiastic attitude is important in any undertaking, only actions are the true hallmarks of change. Instead of wanting to be the kind of person that wants to do good, why don’t we break the inertia and start living it. I know that visible change in society does not come from a solitary action from a single individual, but if more and more people rally in the cause maybe then we’ll see a noticeable change for the better.
I am not without my faults, flaws, and short-comings, it would be hypocritical of me to simply preach without enacting what I say. When I applied to college, I wanted to make a difference in the world, and I wanted to help humanity, I wanted to be the kind of person that affected change. All these desires were well intended, but I realized that there was nothing I was doing to make it happen; I was in the same place where I started. I took an honest look at my life and was dissatisfied with what I found. So wanting to break my streak, I picked a cause I truly cared about and looked up ways to help or contribute. Eventually, after countless rejections, I landed a job as an assistant in a cancer research lab. I know that what I actually do in lab isn’t always exciting or grand, but I know that all the little things add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. After breaking the inertia of passivity, I realized that it was the necessary step that started the momentum to start living what I desired to be.
I’m tired of hearing promises of change with no actions backing them up. I’m not asking for an absolute transformation, but merely signs of progress towards the intended goal. I’m tired of the disparity of what people say compared to their actions, or lack thereof. If you want to help people, then start by volunteering in your own community. I think there needs to be a strengthened connection between what we are now to what we want to be. I think that people need be active participants in course of their own lives, and not just let destiny take over. I do not think that where we are in life now dictates where we’ll end up in the future. I don’t want to passively watch the world while change is happening before my eyes. I know I’m not who I want to be yet, I still have a lot of kinks to work out, and even if I ever become who I want to be it would be self-righteous to make any mention of it. However, I’m hoping that the small contributions I’m making will sum up to a larger cause and close the gap of disparity into becoming the kind of person I want to be.