Sometimes we convince ourselves that the “unnoticed” gestures of “insignificant” people mean nothing. It’s not enough to recycle our soda cans; we must Stop Global Warming Now. Since we can’t Stop Global Warming now, we may as well not recycle our soda cans. It’s not enough to be our best selves; we have to be Gandhi. And yet when we study the biographies of our heroes, we learn that they spent years in preparation doing tiny, decent things before one historical moment propelled them to center stage. – Danusha Veronika Goska, Political Paralysis
There have been times when I have been down. When I’ve looked at my ‘record of achievement’ (which resides within my head) and feel it to have fallen short. Not speaking simply of childhood and adult dreams, but of those times when I’ve considered myself to have fallen short of the person I want to be. When I have thought I have not contributed what in my heart I felt capable of giving.
And then there are times when society does the job for us. When we open the paper, look upon the street, observe the litter in canals. The challenges of our world – on our streets and in our chambers of government – seem so large that our small contribution fails before it begins. As Goska points out, the size of climate change often prevents us from doing whatever it is we are actually capable of doing.
So often we deprecate our positions, and so often our positions are deprecated by society. Goska argues that when she worked as a nurse’s aid, very few considered her work ‘virtuous’. And yet she was there, caring for the elderly, infirm, lonely, dying.
Our work – paid and unpaid – does not have to travel that close to the ‘big questions’ . For whatever we do, in some measure we develop community. All work has the capacity to be toward the other.
Many will abdicate the strength they have. However, Goska implores, ‘The problem is not that we have too little power. The problem is that we don’t use the power that we have.’
Recognising the good we do in this world is important for ourselves – so often we allow cynicism and pessimism to claim sovereignty over reality. Even words such as hope and idealism speak of a future without ills, handing the present over to the world with troubles. We do good, too; we care for others; we listen, we build, we are tender and loving. May we never allow ourselves to forget this – for to acknowledge the good – however little we think it to be – is the small preparation towards that hope-filled future.