It’s nice to have grandiose coordination to do things like have holidays that honor fallen soldiers for their service. It’s nice when large groups of people can coordinate efforts to act in unison to help people, especially in disaster-stricken areas, where coordination is almost essential. Sometimes, the best way to get things done is with people working together to accomplish singular goals. However, not to rain on anyone’s parade, but grandiose gestures aren’t what truly changes the world.
I know this isn’t particularly popular, but individuals working on their own are where the world truly changes. When you work as a group, there’s a strong feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, and that’s amazing and wonderful. However, when that becomes the primary thinking of how things make real impact, then there develops a mindset that someone else will always take care of a problem, or that even someone else will provide a thank you and encouragement. This is even more pronounced when certain responsibilities are handed over permanently to government.
Now, I’m really going to catch it from people reading this when I say that government observance of holidays (such as Memorial Day in the US) does not constitute nearly as strong a message as people recognizing such a day all on their own. For example, when Christians recognized Christmas, well before government, it was more meaningful and a more personal celebration. When government gave it recognition and essentially forced observance onto everyone, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that that’s when it began to become more commercialized and contain less meaning. Perhaps the same is true of holidays like Memorial Day.
Also, if we cede responsibility for feeding the poor, taking care of the elderly, and giving work to the unemployed to the government, then people begin to believe that the government provides the whole of the solution (or that it should). Then, people give up on helping people when they see that people need help. It’s easier to walk past a homeless person without a second thought if you can assume that there is someone whose job it is to take care of them, and maybe they are just falling down on the job. It’s easier to stay disconnected from the people who are even close to you and surround you if you think their needs are being met by someone else whose job it is to always stay on top of such things.
In the name of progress, humanity has somehow lost the idea that we tend to take better care of our fellow humans when we know we have some direct responsibility. There’s an uneasy and unsettling feeling walking past a homeless person if you know government isn’t going to provide. So, you take it upon yourself to do what you can. If you are closely connected to the people you’re helping, you also know exactly what help they need. A government bureaucracy can’t possibly provide individualized care for every person who needs help.
As people cede more and more responsibility to governments, the world has lost connection with individuals, and we suffer for it. People get wholesale, averaged remedies for individual problems. And, people are less connected to what problems and their root causes really exist. Maybe it’s a little uncomfortable for people to interact with someone in dire circumstances, but I think it’s more uncomfortable to know that problems aren’t getting well defined and that the help provided may be doing more harm than good.
It’s much better to have things change on a personal level. It’s better to personally buy a meal for someone who has nothing to eat. It’s better to give a little money to someone you know needs a little help getting by in between jobs. And, it’s much better to study what sacrifices have been made by soldiers – both in the name of goodness, and in the name of poor causes. It’s better to study and understand what happened in wars than to have a government make a pronouncement that gives a hollow nod. I’d rather think of my grandfather in his service than to have someone put out a proclamation on my behalf. I’d rather proclaim it myself.
We rely too much on government to do things for us, when we would receive so much more reward from doing it ourselves. We lose out on understanding people and problems when we don’t interact directly. Working as a group to fund private charity is a tremendous benefit. Greater benefit than that is to supplement such giving with giving directly and helping directly. Private group acts make the world a far better place, but individual acts in helping others and interacting with others make permanent changes in the world. Each person helped by an individual is forever changed, and each person that acts to help someone individually is also forever changed in his compassion for others and in his understanding of others. Individual acts truly do have the greatest impact.
Latest posts by Danny Chabino (see all)
- Are People Evil and Stupid? - December 9, 2020
- This Is What Happens When You Politicize an Illness - September 29, 2020
- Want to End Racism? Eliminate Systemic Collectivism - September 8, 2020