One of my most favorite XKCD comics
So, when did you last convince someone who has a different opinion than you, that you’re right?
Okay, maybe it’s yesterday, or last week. Rare but it happens, we’ll give you that one.
Now, how often have you convinced someone, or turned an opinion? Think about it. Once every few years?
And how much energy did you expend over those few years, just to help one or two people see one detail differently? And now answer me the following:
What difference did it make?
What’s the return on your investment, even if that investment was simply re-sharing some clever political meme or quote on Facebook?
In the grand scheme of things, or in your own life. What difference has it made? Has the world changed? Have you? Has that one person turned around and joined your cause?
Now, here’s a different idea on what to do with your time.
Instead of using up a huge amount of energy writing about, decrying, supporting, or making fun of a political or social idea… instead of trying to nudge our society’s 50/50 dichotomy in the direction you think is right… instead of worrying about what other people a thousand miles away are doing who you have no control over whatsoever…
Plant a tomato. No, seriously. Go find some dirt, and a pot. Get a tomato seed. It’s fall and heading for winter, so check out this article on wikihow for how to grow a tomato plant indoors.
While you’re at it, grow a lettuce plant. Dirt, pot, seed, wikihow. Go.
You’ll spend maybe an hour or two over the next couple of months, and end up with lettuce and tomato. And maybe some failures that taught you something you’ll always remember.
How much energy will you have put into that? More or less than the arguing that you did on Facebook? If you’re politically active, then less by a long shot.
What difference has this made? Two of the four ingredients in a BLT. So?
You took some dirt, water, and a couple of seeds and fed yourself. YOU FED YOURSELF. Do you get what that means? Do you have any idea how drastically you can change your life by taking responsibility for the ingredients for a couple of lunches?
Two ingredients you obtained without Wal-mart. Without food stamps. Without your soul being sucked dry by your job. You took a couple of seeds, and created LIFE, and then you fed your own.
Imagine what would happen if you gave up trying to convince people in the other half the world that they’re wrong, and instead spent that energy reducing how much you depend on your job or the government for your food.
Take some ownership of yourself and your future. Even if it’s just a little bit (five minute strategy!) here and there.
Improve your life, and you free yourself up to help other people improve theirs. Not by convincing them they’re on the wrong side, but by showing them how to walk away from an un-winnable argument and do something significant, like feed themselves.
Congratulations! You just changed the world!