Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. - Joel A. Barker
There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. - John F. Kennedy
The #1206 “fiction” series continues …
Joe frowned as he thumb-scrolled through his Facebook feed, attempting to catch up to the barrage of information that seemed to never end. He hit a couple of likes, shared a few posts and vainly attempted to make a comment on someone else’s post using the same hand that was holding his phone.
“Hmmmmph”, he grunted as he stared at his phone, “I never saw that before.”
He also never saw the vehicles stopped in front of him as social media occupied more of his attention than operating his vehicle at 65 miles per hour.
Fortunately, his poor attentiveness to that which really mattered produced a unplanned result that was mercifully brief
He awoke with a start, sitting on a chair in a softly lit room.
He looked around, dazed and confused.
“Wasn’t I just driving?”, he thought as he began to panic.
“There is no need for panic”, a Voice from nowhere and everywhere spoke gently, “You are safe here.”
“Wh ….. wh …. where am I?”, stammered Joe, his voice quivering in alarm.
“You are here to be processed”, replied the Voice, “It is my job to see that you are prepared for the next step in your journey.”
“Processed? Journey?”, asked Joe, “Processed for what? Where am I going?”
“Patience”, replied the Voice, “All questions will be answered in time. One moment please. I am reviewing your file.”
Joe waited in silence as his body shook gently.
“Now”, the Voice said, breaking the silence, “We use a weighted average to assess your contributions, with recent acts of good and evil having more weight than earlier acts because more recent acts took place when you had more knowledge. Do you understand this?”
“Excuse me?”, asked Joe, feeling more confused than ever.
The Voice ignored the question.
“Let’s see”, the Voice said softly, “Um hum. Um hum. I see. Ok, I see where to begin.”
An image appeared in front of Joe and he was startled to realize that he was looking at himself.
“You were quite a prolific social media user, Joe”, said the Voice, “You shared and liked a lot of things on it.”
“Well”, began Joe, “There are a lot of things going on in the world that need to be fixed.”
“So true”, replied the Voice, “So true. I can tell by examining your social media participation what appears to have mattered to you. For example …..”
The Voice paused for a moment.
Joe saw the image of himself replaced by a list of causes that he felt passionate about.
“Do you recognize these things?”, asked the Voice.
Joe scanned the list – child abuse, battered women, the impact of war on children …… he recognized every one of them.
“I do”, he replied.
“I see that you shared a lot of stories about children in war-torn countries”, the Voice said.
“Yes”, replied Joe, starting to regain his composure, “It is important that we not allow those children to suffer.”
“So true”, replied the Voice, “But you never went there or took any action to help them.”
“Well”, said Joe hesitatingly, “It’s pretty dangerous over there.”
“Yes it is”, replied the Voice, “But you can take consolation in the fact that the stories you liked on social media cheered up an orphan in a place like Syria. In fact, I see one story here that you shared that received 100 likes. Surely that brought comfort to the woman mourning a lost child or to the man who lost both legs to an explosive. These people likely hung out on social medial waiting for people like you to show them that they mattered. Your social media participation from the comfort of your home must have brought real comfort to them.”
“In fact”, continued the Voice, “It’s clear that many things that are important to you were clearly made better because of your incessant liking, sharing and comments.”
Joe sensed a touch of sarcasm but said nothing.
“You sense sarcasm”, said the Voice insightfully, “Yet I do not judge you. If you sense sarcasm from me, it is a perception created by you judging yourself based on the facts I have presented to you.”
“Do you recognize these people?”, asked the Voice as the image in front of Joe changed again.
Joe recognized the people in the image immediately. The image showed the members of his coffee klatch that met twice a week to discuss and argue over the problems of the world. Many of their discussions became frustrating, heated exchanges about who was to blame for all the problems in the world and having established that, they would retreat to the safety of their homes and arm themselves with data for the next time they got together.
“A lot of blame and finger-pointing there”, observed the Voice, “Did you ever solve anything?”
“We weren’t trying to solve anything per se ….”, began Joe but the Voice interrupted him.
“Interesting”, the Voice said, “We have always believed that with problems, there are only three options. Do you know what they are?”
“No”, said Joe quietly.
“They are quite simple”, replied the Voice, “Complain about problems and do nothing, ignore them and do nothing or take action or help others to take action to address the problems.”
“But these things are important”, expostulated Joe, “We had to discuss them ….”
The Voice cut him off again.
“I believe that of the three options I provided, only one of them accomplishes anything of merit”, the Voice observed, “Did you choose the one that actually addresses the problem?”
“Well ….. ummmmm …. no”, said Joe quietly.
“Did it ever occur to you that you were provided with Life experiences, knowledge, talent, strengths and skills to take action and not just talk about things?”, the Voice asked.
“Why are you accusing me of …..”, Joe began.
“I am not accusing you of anything”, replied the Voice as he cut Joe off again, “It is you who judge yourself.”
Joe said nothing and silence filled the room.
“How about this?”, the Voice asked and the image before Joe changed to one of of him offering a friend consolation regarding a loss his friend had experienced.
“I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers”, Joe heard himself say to his friend.
“Did you ever say a prayer for your friend?”, asked the Voice.
“No”, replied Joe, “I forgot”.
“Did you think about him after that”, asked the Voice.
Joe said nothing but shook his head silently.
“I see”, replied the Voice, “An empty offer, perhaps? Or perhaps it was just a disingenuous, pithy comment like so many empty ones you offered to people over the years when they needed help, even if the help they needed was merely someone to listen to them for a moment.”
Joe said nothing.
“I have an offer for you”, the Voice said, “But it will depend on many others. Let’s see if they will help you.”
The image before Joe was replaced again. This time what appeared was very similar to social media he was used to. However, what he saw gave him chills.
It was a very brief story of his own Life with a request that someone step up to help him find his way home.
As he watched it, he saw a like counter ticking up, first slowly and then much quicker.
A share counter then began to tick as quickly as the like counter.
But it was the comments that struck Joe.
They started slow but quickly picked up in tempo.
Some of the comments were very supportive, comments like “We’re right there with you, Joe”, “You can do it, Joe”, “Hey Frank, check out this Joe guy and what he’s trying to do” and the like.
Some comments praised some of the things he had done in his Life.
Some comments condemned him for mistakes he had made.
Some of the comments were complete lies or misinterpretations of actual events.
“That’s quite a lot of activity”, observed the Voice.
Joe said nothing.
“And yet”, continued the Voice, “Despite all the activity being generated on your behalf, you …. are …. still …. here.”
The Voice spoke the last words slowly for emphasis.
“How do you explain this, Joe?”, the Voice asked.
Joe sat in silence as a sudden insight dawned on him.
“I didn’t actually do enough”, he said quietly, “I thought I was doing the right thing but in fact the doing part was the one thing that I wasn’t doing.”
“Or doing enough of”, the Voice said, correcting him gently.
“I didn’t know”, Joe said quietly, “How could I have known?”
“That may be true”, conceded the Voice, “But what would happen if someone actually took an action on your behalf right now to make a difference in your Life? Would you actually do something with that knowledge?”
Joe nodded slowly, looked down and swallowed hard, feeling his eyes tear up.
“Then find something that matters to you and do something about it”, the Voice said.
Joe looked up as the Voice seemed much more insistent than it had during their conversation but as he did so, a blinding light surrounded him.
“Sir, can you tell me your name?”, a voice commanded.
Joe attempted to struggle,, dazzled by the light in his eyes and feeling confused again.
“Joe”, he whispered, “My name is Joe”.
“You’re a very lucky man, Joe”, replied the paramedic as he finished examining Joe’s eyes with his penlight, “But you’re going to be ok. I don’t know how you survived this but your guardian angel was looking over your shoulder today. You’ve been given a second chance, my friend. What do you think of that?”
Joe lay there in silence …. wondering …. thinking.
To be continued.
© 2016 – Harry Tucker – All Rights Reserved
This post came to mind as I talked to someone last night about my annual Christmas project for helping battered women and their children.
We were discussing all of the people who share things on social media without doing anything, drop $5 in a Salvation Army kettle while fretting over the color of their next BMW, people who demand of others that they do something to help someone in need, people who offer pithy platitudes to people who issue the cry for help and the like.
There are many people who actually DO things to serve and help others but sadly, they are in the minority.
Too many people do too little and yet in their small efforts, somehow comfort themselves believing that they have done everything within their power.
Meanwhile they waste their potential and diminish their results (and the results of others) performing actions that produce little if any result or impact that really matters.
They is likely much more that they can do.
How about you?
Can you do more for someone today?
Could someone do more for you?
If you were given a second chance, would you be a different person?
Why wait for the second chance?
Not everyone gets one.
Some related posts to get your creative juices flowing:
Someone is waiting for you to DO something tangible and meaningful.
It doesn’t have to be huge to be impactful.
But it has to be something.
So ….. someone IS waiting for you.
What are YOU waiting for?
This series, a departure from my usual musings, is inspired as a result of conversations with former senior advisors to multiple Presidents of the United States, senior officers in the US Military and other interesting folks as well as my own professional background as a Wall St. / Fortune 25 strategy advisor and large-scale technology architect.
While this musing is just “fiction” (note the quotes) and a departure from my musings on technology, strategy, politics and society, as a strategy guy, I do everything for a reason and with a measurable outcome in mind. :-)
This “fictional” musing is a continuation of the #1206 series noted here.