Suppose you were to look out of an office window, down into the street below, and see a man standing by the edge of the road. It’s a nice Sunny day, and not much appears to be happening at first glance, but as you observe the scene, you see that some way up the road a car is hurtling down the tarmac at too fast a speed, and that should it continue at this speed, it will knock down and kill another man who is crossing the road. You see the original man, the onlooker, look at the car, and look at the man, and frozen on the spot, he does nothing. Slowly you realise you are about to watch one man watch the murder of another man and do nothing about it.
The car strikes the man, and kills him on impact. In this moment, you would most likely be overcome with a sense of shock, and no doubt anger at the lack of action. You may even be inclined to ask him about it if you were given the chance, would you not?
You might run down the stairs of your office building, and stroll up to him and demand an answer, “Why did you do that? You could have helped him, but instead you did nothing?”
Well if his reply were to be, “Well I thought about helping him.” – It wouldn’t mean very much to you, would it? In fact, it would be fair that most people might even be angered further by it. As though it was as useful as saying nothing at all. Because at the end of the day, thinking about doing something, does not equate to acting upon it.
And yet, all too often we use this excuse for ourselves. We suggest as though thinking, or trying, or trying to think about something, somehow equates to having actually done it. As though thinking about taking some art class, is as worthy a statements as having declared you have completed it.
We did not work towards our goals today – but we thought about it. And so somehow this counts as an attempt.
We thought about looking for a job today – so we looked for a job.
We thought about improving a skill – so we are improved.
There is a disconnect here, between reality and sympathy. He can forgive ourselves, but not others. We measure the actions of others, yet we measure the thoughts of ourselves. Similar to when someone who has cheated on someone, justifies it by saying something to the effect of, “I’m a good guy. I don’t do that stuff.” This is because we all like to think we are good. And so despite our actions to the contrary, we define ourselves as such. We can justify our thoughts, regardless of whether the actionable outcome is zero or actively polar opposite; but if another were to do this, we would chastise them, judge them even.
It’s important then here, to remember the Philip K. Dick quote:
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”Philip K. Dick
Therefore it matters not what sensibilities to the world you harbour, or that which you wish the world was. Rather; what is. It does not matter to what standard you wish to hold yourself. Rather; what you are.
WHY, is this so important?
Because we are living in a post-truth era.
It’s a polite phrase which conceals its connotations wells, so if this doesn’t frighten you; it should. The Orwellian age we’ve found ourselves in, actively perpetuates suppression or subversion of truth, to be replaced by truths that are convenient to hear or that align with a more satisfying agenda.
We are living in a time, where we (being a large proportion of us) are more likely to dismiss direct truth for facts that can easily coalesce with other information or to accommodate a lifestyle that is more convenient for us.
We are living in a time, where information is so readily available, that on a personal level it’s almost impossible to proof-read all that we hear; and so made up percentages and statistics can become as much truth as an actual fact.
We are living in a time, where even when companies and individuals are caught out lying to us, or targeting us without our permission, we don’t hold them accountable in any way, and arguably what’s worse, we don’t re-assess our standings to align with fact.
You will notice I provided the links to the pages in bold and kept the citation smaller, this is because it’s more important that you make up your own opinions, rather than read my assessment of it.
Living in an age such as this; there are many things we cannot control. Many things we refuse to take control of, for real of retaliation or consequence. The one thing you CAN control, always; is you. Hold yourself to a standard, and be uncompromising of that standard. Integrity.
The social version of you, or some non-reality version of you that you’ve conceived or convinced yourself of in your mind; is a construct. It ISN’T real. No matter how much you would like it to be, or how well you’ve got at convincing people that is you. Thoughts and illusions are not synonymous with action.
If you are so sure of who you are; prove it. Think anything you wish, with reckless abandon should you choose to. There is no censorship on what you think. But it is what you do; that defines you.
If you want to be great, be great, and be great consistently. It is our actions, that define, who we are.
“You are, who you choose to be.”– Ted Hughes, The Iron Man.