One of the better innovations in the world has been the creation of
democratic republics. Likewise one of the most tedious developments on Earth has been the exploitation of democratic republics. 2020 is an election year–which means U.S. citizens are encountering this dichotomy head-on.
We certainly need to pay attention to what the candidates to political office, including those running for non-presidential offices, say. Within the flood of word salad, we will find the nuggets of intent. There will be promises galore, but few, if any will come to fruition. Of course, following through on promises can be a bad thing or a good thing. On the whole, following up constructive, helpful promises with action is what we hope for.
Back in the day, like many young males, I used to talk big but not always keep my promises. This was not done out of deceit; it was a matter of biting off more than I could chew. I wanted to do amazing things for my loved ones, but I didn’t have the means nor awareness to follow through. One evening, the second-cousin, who was also my house-mate, told me that my habit of talking big was breaking her son’s heart.
Kids want and need to believe in the adults who care for them. Although I had not set out to become any sort of surrogate parent, the child in our household did relate to me in those terms. We were friends in the best sense. Then, I found out that he looked up to me. This was profound, earth-shattering news to my ears. My cousin needed to say no more. I realized then, I needed to talk less and do more.
Doing so, turned out to be a process, not an overnight miracle. Occasionally, I’d reveal a grand plan or promise something beyond my capabilities. I’d notice my cousin’s wan smile, then look into her son’s eyes. I could see I was setting everyone up for another heartbreak. Then I had to back off from pie in the sky talk. That’s a tough task for a 23-year-old guy.
When a person does talk, the words should mesh well with one’s actions. There is one maxim that is germane to today’s topic and to living a satisfying, happier life: Speak well and act honorably. I take this to mean that I should use words in a helpful manner and perform tasks while keeping in mind the highest good for the benefit of the greatest number. I often fall short of this ideal, but I do my best to honor it.
The fact of the matter is that words are passive and actions are active. We might also remember that words represent ideas and actions represent real stuff. It’s easy to think and formulate happy schemes. It’s not always easy to fabricate the implementation of them.
The situation regarding words and deeds is an ages old conundrum. However, in light of this political season and the ongoing global health crisis, it behooves us to be mindful of all the words gushing forth from the politicians’ mouths. There will be a lot of talk. Talk is cheap. Without real, beneficial actions, all those words will be useless. What they say and what they do can be two different things or they can represent the same things. Will we believe those words? Why or why not?
Beautiful words are products of the head. Excellent actions are fruit of the heart. While eloquent words tend to expire, wise actions tend to endure. What is actually performed becomes legacy.
This year, perhaps we can content ourselves by doing what needs to be done and leave the talking to the politicians and their followers.