I had an interesting interaction today that got me to reflect on how we behave in modern society. If you ask the average person if they believe that they are good, the safe bet is that they’ll say yes. And on the face of things, they would probably be right. Most people don’t go through life being inherently bad, but some often do bad things.
So what does it take to be good? Karma teaches us that what we suffer through in life is a direct result of our actions. Essentially, if you do bad things, bad will come to you. But what if you do nothing bad? My question to you tonight, dear reader, is simply this: What if you do nothing at all?
Edmund Burke once wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” I could quote several other people, as most historical figures who have fought the good fight have one and/or many quotes similar to Burke’s. The point is simply that doing absolutely nothing is tantamount to doing bad things.
I sold an item to a couple today. All part of my recent journey towards minimalism. They didn’t even bother to negotiate price or anything, and they showed up promptly and on time. My kind of people. I find there are far too many people that I deal with that seem unable to keep a scheduled appointment. But I digress…
In speaking with this couple, they explained that the item I was selling to them was for the woman’s mother. The item wasn’t even for them, it would be for someone else. The woman paid me the agreed amount, I helped them load the item and they went on their way.
I can be the first to admit that I can sometimes be a tad too trusting and I stuffed the cash in my pocket without bothering to count it. Once they were gone and I was back inside my home, I realized that the woman had provided an additional five dollars. I messaged her immediately and explained that if she provided her home address, I would drop the excess cash to her while I was out running errands.
I was taken somewhat aback at the woman’s reaction. She was incredibly grateful and provided her address. I dropped the money off, and she messaged me further thanking me profusely for dropping the money off.
It only seemed natural to return money that didn’t belong to me, but I realized from the reaction I received that it would have been totally expected to simply keep the extra cash. And this is also bearing in mind that the woman didn’t even seem to be aware that she had overpaid.
Although this example is a specific one, I think it speaks to where we’ve grown as a society that we expect so little from others. It isn’t all that hard to do the right thing. Sometimes, it comes as nothing more than a small gesture, but it can make a positive difference. As Suzy Kassem once said, “Stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone.” ☯