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My take on Political Paralysis

Updated on March 3, 2016

"Sometimes we convince ourselves that the 'unnoticed' gestures of 'insignificant' people mean nothing." This statement not only sums up Goska's essay in a concise and clear cut sentence, but I also feel that it is a factual statement of human perception. In today's world, with how busy our lives are, people often think that smaller gestures, whether noticed or not, do not have an affect worthy of the gesture. Thus, people choose to not perform these small acts.

In my neighborhood, Thursday is trash day, and Allied Waste provides a Green Waste receptacle as well as a Blue recycle receptacle for paper, glass and aluminum. Each Thursday morning, as I drive down our street heading off to work, it saddens me that of the ten to fifteen houses I drive past, I only need one hand to count the dismal number of recycle bins on the streets next to the overflowing trash cans. I learned to recycle from my retired grandmother, who would spend countless hours collecting, crushing and bagging soda cans as well as collecting old newspapers and cardboard boxes and taking them to the recycle center. Now, with my job, school and family, I may not have the time to go to the extent that my grandmother did. My family and I purchased a second trash can for the kitchen so we sort our trash before taking it to the provided receptacles for pick up each week. Even though we may not be able to "Stop Global Warming Now" with this small act, it is still an act that will help our children have a cleaner and healthier environment to enjoy as they grow.

It is along this same though process of no act is too small, that Goska makes mention of Gandhi's autobiography. Goska says that there was not a great grand plan to "over throw the British Empire," and instead speaks of how she is struck by how his mother affected him by her dedication to "making vows and keeping vows." Gandhi's mother would choose a deity and make a vow to fast, and when she would get those hunger pains, Gandhi recalls his mother's willpower to overcome those pains and keep her word and vow. What if Gandhi had not been affected by this, or if his mother had not shown this willpower to her son? If Gandhi had thought to himself, I am just one small person what can I do, and had told his "still small voice, 'Stifle yourself!'" instead, the world would be a much different place. Without Gandhi would there be Independence in India? Because of this one man's many small acts Satyagraha, the idea of total non-violence resistance, may not have been founded as one of the driving philosophies for Indian Independence.

People that "see themselves as perpetual victims," often times choose to stifle their inner voice. This inner voice that Goska refers to, I think, is that of our conscience. Each day, each one of us is faced with a situation where our conscience pipes up and we have a choice to both listen and act or to ignore it completely. It can be an act as simple as Goska's neighbor stopping and giving her a ride, or holding the door open for an elderly person. We do not know how our one small act will impact the life of the person we are helping. There are even people in the world that do not realize what their small act means, like Goska's neighbor who was surprised when she expressed her gratitude. In the past, every time I would cross a bridge that required a toll, I would pay for myself as well as the car behind me. However, there was one night that I was driving across the Bay Bridge into San Francisco, as I pulled out my four dollars to pay the toll for myself plus one and proceeded to explain this to the Toll Booth Operator, instead of just taking my money and saying "thank you," like so many before him, he stopped and took a moment of my time. This man, the Toll Booth Operator, said that what I was doing was very nice, but he asked if he could hang on to the extra toll for later that evening. What the Operator explained to me, is that many homeless people in the city live in their cars, and during the winter nights they drive around in their cars, often times crossing the bridge and having to pay the toll. I agreed to have him hold on to the money for that purpose, and now when I cross a bridge I tell the Toll Booth Operator to hang onto the extra toll and use it on someone that needs it later that day, as they see fit.

Goska states, "The problem is not that we have so little power. The problem is that we don't use the power that we have." Within each of ourselves we have a little bit to give. Whether it is giving someone a ride, adopting a child from Cambodia, or saving a village in some small third world country, no act is too small. No act truly goes unnoticed; it will be noticed by some one, somewhere and make a difference in that person's life. There are roughly 300 million people in the United States, if each person chose to give even one percent towards a kind act or a small effort, the world would be changed dramatically. If it was not for the millions of small acts, the larger acts that need to be performed would be even a greater challenge when needing to be faced. Can you imagine how different our world would be today if each one of us empowered ourselves to think as Goska does?


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