Why Bother?

Life can be a real slog sometimes. We encounter obstacles, experience setbacks, and occasionally find ourselves over-matched. And yet, we are expected to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. But should we bother?

A single person can change the world. There are many different examples, from Gandhi to Thoreau, from Malala to Greta Thunberg. Committed, passionate individuals can make a difference.

But the chances that you will be one of those people is exceedingly slim. There are more than seven billion people in the world, and to stand out among that large a number is difficult indeed.

In addition, there are a number of powerful forces arrayed against you. Beyond individuals who have money or power and unwilling to part with it, there are powerful corporations, brutal dictatorships, and corrupt governments. There are economic, social, and cultural pressures that control our lives.

On top of that, the natural world is at work as well. One person, or even a community of people, have little ability to control or influence the weather, for instance. The best you can due in a storm is to try and stay safe and dry and wait until it is over.

With so much beyond our control, why should we try to control it? When an individual human being is buttressed about by other people, by corporations, by nature, by luck, what is the benefit of trying to assert control where there is none?

Tomorrow, we might receive a cancer diagnosis, or be in a car accident, or have a tree fall on our house, or see a federal policy you don’t like enacted, or something else that is beyond us.

How do we soldier on in spite of that? Why bother?

Related questions: When do you need inspiration? Is it a cruel world? What gives you purpose? How do you cheer yourself up?


1 thought on “Why Bother?”

  1. The context for this question has at least two false premises. First, it implies that the only choice we have for action on problems is to do so alone. Believing that something is outside your sphere of control discounts that something might not be such if you band together with others who also care about a similar topic. Second, and related to the first, the context implies that to have an impact, we have to achieve a status of Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Malala Yousafzai, or Greta Thunberg. In fact, you can make an impact — a significant impact — while not being a movement’s leader.

    Followers of my Facebook feed know that I am passionate and try to make an impact on several social/political issues. Concerns I’ve chosen to focus on are:

    – fighting the dramatic increase in homelessness that has occurred over the last 40 years and the related and proportionate reduction in the availability of housing affordable to our lowest-income neighbors,
    – sharing my struggles with Depression and Anxiety to help others know they are not alone while also taking on the stigma and discrimination attached to mental illnesses,
    – celebrating the world’s seed diversity while also reporting how precarious that diversity is, and
    – helping develop a new generation of leaders by providing internships to college students who care about making a difference in the world but need some experience and guidance.

    I’ve chosen to act. In doing so with others, I believe I have made a significant impact and will continue to so.

    The choice is not limited to why bother or not? Some people, I think wrongly, decide that social/political concerns are not theirs. Others know there are problems they could address, but choose active ignorance and neglect.

    On the flip side, others choose active hope and engagement in finding and working toward solutions. I am full of hope. Why? Because I have chosen to bother. And, in doing so, I have allied myself with the thousands of others in my community who’ve chosen to as well.

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