Monday, January 11, 2016

Don't Do Anything At All

(This became a bit of a ramble, sorry.)

One of the things I forget most often is that doing nothing is a choice. It is not a conscious choice in most instances, but it is a choice.

We choose to get up, brush our teeth, dress, and go about our day. We could choose to lie in bed, but unless we are ill, we do not. If we are sick, though, we (hopefully) make the choice to stay inside and care for ourselves and not spread germs to others.

Most of choices are habit, things we were taught when we young. These are actions we were told we must take in order to be part of society, to fit in. Be clean, don't stink, look decent and attractive, find a job, marry, have children, purchase the house with the white picket fence (maybe not in that order). Expectations become choices, and we are not even aware that we have agreed to these expectations, because we made the choice to fit in when our choice, as an infant, was to fit in or die. Few infants choose to die, they choose to live. When the choice is between living or dying, most choose living.

So many people are unhappy today. I feel it seeping into my bones when I go out of my home. People are grouchy at the drugstore. They are irritable at the grocery store.

We have dozens standing around on sidewalks touting their "right" to open carry a gun because they feel insecure and uncomfortable with the world. They are fearful, weak people, in my opinion, and I have made the choice that if I see a person with a gun, I don't care if they can legally carry it, I am leaving the area immediately (unless it is a policeman carrying the gun, someone who hopefully has been trained to use a weapon, and even then I might leave). If that means my grocery cart sits in the aisle of Kroger, so be it. If my meal goes uneaten (and unpaid for) so be it. I have no way of knowing if the person with the gun is sane or knows how to use a weapon, and in order to preserve my life, and those that I love, I will insist upon leaving.

That is my choice. My other choice would be to ignore it and hope I am not shot, but I do not have nerves of steel and thus will remove myself. I do not believe a citizen can respond appropriately to an active shooter, so carrying a gun makes no sense to me. If reflexes made us secure, we would have no dead policemen. But we do. And this it not the wild, wild west.

Okay, so I am not sure where the gun thing came from, I guess because earlier I read an article about idiots doing an open carry thing in Roanoke yesterday. This is supposed to be an essay about making choices.

We choose to take the first drag of a cigarette. It is the second (or 17th) that creates the habit that creates the addiction. Fortunately I never liked cigarettes and am allergic to the smoke from them anyway. It is the same with alcohol. Some can manage it in social situations, some can have a single drink every night and be fine, others, having made the choice to overdrink, become belligerent irritating assholes or sobbing, crying piles of mush. I don't drink at all, having seen what effect it can have.

I am choosing to write this knowing I am probably angering a few people. I have chosen not to care. It's my blog and I can write what I like. People don't have to read it. I don't think too many people read these longer pieces anyway.

The main thing I want to point out is that doing nothing is a choice. If you choose not to vote, you have chosen to do nothing. If you are unhappy in your work, and yet you rise from your bed day after day and go into the office, you have made that choice. Most likely you feel trapped - there are bills to pay, after all - so you do not feel it is a choice, but it is. You could find other work. Or you could simply quit and hope things work themselves out (not advisable, but still a choice). You could start a side business that makes you happy, with the expectation that eventually that enjoyable side business would support you someday, and you could leave the bill-paying job. Maybe it won't happen, but you will have made the effort, and hopefully be happier for it.

I realize that where I am is because I have, in many cases, made poor choices. I have made good choices, too, but particularly where my health is concerned, my choices have not been the best. I eat sugar because I crave it, and maybe I am addicted to it, but it is still my choice as to whether or not I eat it. Some people call that lack of will power, and perhaps it is. Maybe Hershey's is my crutch. Perhaps I carry around a chocolate bar like other people carry guns. Though the first does not kill anyone but me, and hopefully not for a while.

Doing nothing is a choice. Standing back and watching the county supervisors rip away our history is a choice - things can be fought against. You may not win, but you don't have to take it lying down.

Watching big corporations take land for pipelines and doing nothing is a choice.

By doing nothing, we are choosing to let others run society for us. We become bystanders in life. We all do this to some degree - we can't be on top of every cause, every misery, every bit of turmoil in the world, or even in our own household. But we can make choices to read more, to be better informed, to educate ourselves about society around us.

We can vote. So many people don't vote - which is a pity because their absence has created much of what we see today. Apathy is destroying democracy.

Sometimes doing nothing is the correct choice - but it should be acknowledged as one of the choices available. For example, you see something on sale. You can choose to buy it, or not. Not buying is not a choice of doing nothing. It is a choice of not buying. A choice of doing nothing would be to walk by a homeless person on the street without giving the soul a glance. Or not speaking up when you see someone hurting someone else. Or staying in the job you hate. Those are choices of doing nothing. We choose not to be involved or make a change in most cases because we can't foresee an outcome.

Which makes me wonder if doing nothing is really the result of fear, that palatable fear I feel these days when I am public. We have become a nation of scared, fearful folk, a result not of doing nothing but because those who lead and have power have decided that scared, fearful people are easier to manipulate and rule.

I would like to see us stop doing nothing. I would like to see every person make one phone call this year to an elected representative to voice a complaint or make a suggestion, or take pen to paper to write an official. Put a letter to the editor out there, or maybe start a blog - it doesn't matter if only one person reads it - and express your opinion. Speak out in public places. Say hello and make eye contact in the grocery store. Smile!

But please, don't do anything at all.


  1. I'm old - 70 +++ & have friends that are getting guns. It's just crazy. I would not be
    comfortable around guns -- like you said -- you don't know you is sane or not..

  2. i chose to read this.
    and it was a good choice.
    seriously, thank you for choosing to write it.

  3. I hate the fact so many idiots are allowed to "conceal carry." More guns are NOT going to make us safer, no matter what the NRA says. Since the idiot in charge of our state has relaxed gun control, there are more and more incidents of shots fired. Too many people seem to think the best or only way to settle an argument these days is to pull a gun. There are incidents almost daily, and now they want to expand conceal carry to include schools. Sorry, but that would make me feel LESS safe as a student, teacher or parent. So glad that isn't a concern I need to worry about!


I enjoy your comments and always appreciate the opportunity to visit the blogs of my readers. I hope you have a great day!