People in my past have asked me if I was “too stupid to know that one person can’t make a difference in the world.” This is a meme in our culture–that cynics and skeptics are the smart ones. That the idealists and the optimists are too dumb to realize there is no point trying.
Think on this story:
Two frogs—one very smart and one very stupid—are caught in a bowl of cream. The sides are too steep to climb and they have no foothold to jump. The stupid one begins to swim as hard and fast as he can. The smart one looks over and says to himself, “He’s too stupid to know that all that effort will make no difference.”
Having weighed the hopelessness of the situation, the smart one decides that the most intelligent thing to do is just to give up. So—Blub!—he drowns.
The stupid one keeps trying. Just when his legs are about to give out the cream starts to get thicker. His struggling has churned the cream to butter. He’s surprised to find himself on solid ground. He jumps out. By stupidly pursuing the first step (swimming), the second step (jumping out) appeared, as if by magic.
The question is not whether you can make a difference. The question is, do you want to be the person who tries? Do you want to be like the smart frog, who relies on the brain that tells him there is no solution, or the stupid frog, whose heart tells him to try anyway?
Maybe you care about food deserts and kids not having access to good food, or maybe it’s incarceration of local youth, or maybe, like me, you worry about inaction on climate change. Whatever it is, pick up your placard or call your senator or gather your friends or start your social enterprise.
Don’t worry about the second step. Just be stupid enough to take the first one.
(photo via iwastesomuchtime.com)