Talk without action is a waste of time

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Talk without action is a waste of time

Nathan Polk | @snpolk2, Staff Columnist

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Whether they are volunteering, running a business, working a job or satisfying some other responsibility, people are obsessed with what happens at the top of the chain. Cashiers obsess about their CEOs. Citizens complain about their presidents. Travelers blast the state, the mayor or the labor unions for the snail-like pace of road projects. Immigration discussions are scaled to national and historical levels. From the dining room to the board room, daily conversation and public discourse are normally held in the broadest of terms.

 What do these conversations really solve? Discussing macro-level problems is definitely interesting and thought-provoking. Exercises like these are surely important. They build and broaden perspective. However, there is little immediate, tangible effect from such broad philosophical abstraction when action does not follow. 

 When we fail to act as much as we talk about how others should act, we live our lives at a deficit. Changing our communities and building into the future requires dedicated action. Hard work and action are not byproducts of vision. Hard work and action are the catalysts and drivers of vision. 

If we complain about national poverty and never feed the homeless man in our city, do we really care about poverty? If we complain about political issues without engaging policy and mobilizing at the grassroots level, do we care about our governance? If we complain without undertaking action, do we truly desire to effect change?

I love being with family for many reasons. One reason, admittedly cerebral in nature, is because I enjoy observing the progression of our conversations. It’s inevitable that political, religious or economic issues will become a cornerstone of the conversation. I am fascinated by the very clear separation between those who love to criticize and talk about action, and those with concrete ideas and aspirations to solve problems.

 As one who prefers to act, I’m always supremely frustrated by the talkers. Every group, not just our families, has them. How easy it is to become one of them. Getting in the trenches with your neighbors and actually implementing creative solutions to pressing problems is difficult. The process is long, slow, painful and messy. Vaguely discussing macro-level issues we will never combat is far easier than interacting with the process. 

 Yet, if we truly cared about enacting real solutions, we must work hard on the micro-level. The more we fixate on an unreachable plane of problems, the less attention the men and women in need right on our streets receive. In a misguided attempt to change the world, the talkers actually impede the process of change. They’re definitely loud and opinionated, but they amount to dead weight for those trying to truly make a difference.

 Talkers change their television stations to avoid real interaction with immediate and local problems. Don’t be so preoccupied with macro-level activity that you dissociate from the tangible, difficult steps required to reach a goal of progressive change. Our macro-problems are merely aggregate manifestations of micro-problems. Don’t talk. Act. If we all intentionally engage our local micro-problems, our macro-reality will change for the better.