Doing good rather than doing nothing

“’Always go to the funeral’ means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don’t feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don’t really have to and I definitely don’t want to. I’m talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy…. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”” —James Surwilo

Sometimes the most important things we can do are the simplest.

But doing those things requires overcoming the very human desire to avoid uncomfortable situations like, as in this example, attending a funeral.

What “doing good” things have you avoided because it is easier not to do them, and how do you overcome that avoidance?

2 Responses to “Doing good rather than doing nothing”


  1. 1 cathygassenheimer November 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Hi Dennis,
    I’m not sure I’m answering your question, exactly. As I read your post, I thought about how now, more than ever, we need to try do the good and right things as much as we can, even if it is hard.

    A TINY example of this is my decision today to forgo attending a function where a speaker who I REALLY wanted to hear was keynoting in order to attend a special staff luncheon. The luncheon was significant because staff from Birmingham had driven to Montgomery to attend. They may not notice my attendance, but their gesture of friendship and going the extra mile to have us all in the same location is something that I can’t ignore. And, they decided to come to us…a 180 mile round trip for them. They are the ones that modeled the way for us.

    So, this wasn’t a really hard choice for me, but it will serve as a reminder to reach out to others, listen to understand, do things that might be uncomfortable, and resist thinking that I’d rather be elsewhere.

    Thanks, as always, for your reflections!

    • 2 Dennis Sparks November 16, 2016 at 11:41 am

      And thanks for sharing your wonderful story, Cathy!

      Your comment caused me to think back to times when students or colleagues or others expressed appreciation for something I said or did that seemed relatively “tiny” at the time but was memorable and important for them even years later.

      That may well prove true regarding the event you attend today….


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