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April 11, 2017 / Congau

What We Can Do

”I’m so small, what can I do?” Answer: Nothing.

I’m sorry, you didn’t expect that, did you? You thought I would flatter you like everybody else telling you that though you are small you can add your little share and together we will make the world a better place. No, I’m not saying that.

I will not lie to you. The world doesn’t look so great and it may not get better. Do you find that depressing? Well, what I can say to console you is the opposite of what you often hear, and I think that’s actually more encouraging. You can do nothing for the big world, but you can do something for people around you.

Isn’t that the same, you say, you contribute your part and then… No, stop! If you let your little good deeds depend on the big global world, you actually take away the moral worth of your action. If you are making one human being happy, you are doing good just because of that one person’s feelings, not because he is a representative of mankind. Mankind has no feelings. Your tiny addition to the well-being of the world is completely irrelevant, but what you can do for one person may be huge. If you save one human life, that is everything for that person, but it is nothing for the world.

Just keep it on that level then. Don’t think about what you can do for the world. Don’t ask what you can do for your country. You can do nothing. You can do nothing for any collective; you can only help a person.

Global thinking takes away much of the moral worth of an action because it doesn’t do any do any good for anyone in particular; it doesn’t create any personal happiness.

A moral action should be considered in itself, not as a contribution to some large and obscure project. In that perspective it slides into insignificance and becomes nothing. We are small and should stay small. Only then can we do something.

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