Which is more important:
1) Being perceived by the general public as a person who’s dissatisfied with the way things are or 2) being someone who actually contributes to the process of creating a better world?
All too often we make the mistake of equating “being angry about it” with “being committed to doing something about it.” All too often we make the mistake of equating “being worried, frustrated, or stressed out” with “being deeply concerned about what’s right, just, and true.”
If a person is upset or unhappy, surely they must care, right? And if a person is calm, happy, or at peace, surely they must not be aware of the wretchedness that exists in our society, right?
This world, however, has always been filled with people who were dissatisfied and discontent. Every generation has had angry intellectuals who complained about the irrationality of the masses. Every generation has witnessed the testimony of those who pointed out injustice and wrongdoing. And some of those very people were content to simply stop there. Some of those people did nothing more than sit back and reap the social rewards for being seen as a person who was smarter than everyone else.
On the other hand, this world has always had people who didn’t seem to be very bothered by the world, but who dedicated their very lives to serving humanity and fighting for their freedom.
In other words, some people look like they care, but they’re not committed to changing things. And some people look like they don’t care, but they’re actively involved in pushing for progress.
Beware the “look like you care” trap.
Don’t get stuck playing the social game of making yourself look like you’re one of the few remaining righteous ones who actually give a hoot about the fate of our planet. Be more concerned about making practical and positive differences in people’s lives than in proving to others that you’re a good person.
Change doesn’t come from feeling like you’re better than everyone else nor does it come from arguing with people about how worthy you are of their approval.
Life is not a contest to see who can appear to have the most integrity. It’s a team effort at getting off our laurels and doing the challenging work of making ourselves vulnerable in order to bring serious help to this broken world.