The Indelible Virtue of Not Doing Stuff

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John Stuart Mill once said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. That statement couldn’t have been more wrong if someone had dropped it in a big barrel of wrong as an infant. I’m a good man and do you know what you DON’T want me to do? Something! Basically, the second I go from observer to active participant, things break, people get maimed and fuse boxes smolder with that familiar smell of burning plastic and ozone. At that point, I become more like Melville’s Billy Budd: Unsure of what to do so I just punch something. This often adds “repairing the wall” to my to-do list… or “hiring an attorney”, depending upon what I hit and if it retains a lawyer. NOT doing something is infinitely better. My mode of operation should be to let all of the plumbing, heat and roofing in my home to fall apart, then burn down the house, collect the insurance and buy a new one… BUT, you can see the flaw: If I attempt arson, I will screw it up and JUST MAKE THINGS WORSE. What’s worse than my house burning down? I don’t know and I DON’T WANT TO FIND OUT.

I would’ve been a great doctor, because their primary rule is, “First, do no harm” and, not doing things is where I EXCEL. If it were an Olympic event, I’d be rich off of Snickers commercials by now. My family’s coat of arms has the words, “I wouldn’t do that if I was you”… in English because, if we’d proactively tried to translate it into Latin, we probably would’ve screwed it up so badly that we’d open a rift in space that would have destroyed the universe. Can I do no harm? I can not only NOT harm someone… I can not do a lot of other things AT THE SAME TIME. As I sit here writing this, I’m not harming anyone, not dispersing chemical waste into children’s ice cream and definitely not paying attention to grammar, spelling or sentence structure that I’m not paying attention to…

Does all that make me a hero? Well, heroes SEEM pretty proactive, but remember: For every feat of bravery they are performing, there are a thousand things they AREN’T doing. Achilles killed Hector and at the same time, he DIDN’T compose a violin concerto, invent chewing gum or teach a horse to swim the backstroke. Frankly, if you take everything Achilles didn’t do and everything I am not doing, we are basically indistinguishable from one another

Not much more I can say. It’s a fertile topic and the article basically wrote itself. This is a good thing because… well… you know

6 thoughts on “The Indelible Virtue of Not Doing Stuff

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