A Man of Neutered Principles

Why aren’t I doing more to change the world? This is a question that has been softly fluttering in my mind for some time now.

“I am busy,” I tell it. “I’ve got to go to the gym at 5:30 in the morning so I can fit in all my workouts so I won’t be late for work where I will spend hours thinking about difficult problems that I must figure out how to solve, as any engineer does in any usual day. After which I must go attend night classes for the part time degree that I want to complete.”

On the way home, in the dark hours of the night the question would come again. “Why aren’t I doing more to change the world?” But now the answer is, “I am tired. I need to rest so I can get up early enough tomorrow morning to make it to the gym…”

And the loop closes… a loop that I have managed to ensnare myself in.

But whenever I have a quiet moment to myself, the moments before I get out of bed, or when I am brushing my teeth in the morning. When I am in-between sets at the gym, or when I am on lunch at work. When I am on my way to class, or when I am in the taxi going home. When I eat my supper, or when I settle down for bed . . . all I think about is how much so many things need to change.

I keep telling myself that when I finally complete my degree, or have a managerial position with much less nose-to-the-ground work, or move to a much more accessible area or . . . or . . . or . . . Then I will finally have enough time to focus or at least add my energy in the creation of solutions to the problems and issues that ring the world into a lasso of chaos.

Then I will have the energy to be a LGBT activist and implement my ideas for cultural redress in the gay community. Then I will have time to sit down and think about a solution to undermine and potentially topple the system that leaves so many people around the world in what can only be obligatory poverty.

Then I will have time to solve the problem of not having time.


I am living a life that is like so many people in the globalized world today. I get up in the morning, go to the work that sustains my survival, then go back home tired from all the work and I repeat the next day. When I am honest about this fact, it becomes untruthful to say there is a universal lack of empathy for the troubles of the world, that people just don’t care.

Recently, Israel and Palestine were at it again. And again, Palestinians died—gunned down by a state that has become so unbelievably cruel. A rugby celebrity from Australia is lighting up international fires for what he said about gay people and those they love . . . whose name is, ironically, Israel.

People are too busy living life. But they all have their principles . . . at least I do.

You hear it all the time from people who may never actually do anything about anything. “I don’t think that’s right,” or “That can’t be correct.” So many principled people and so little evidence to show that we exist because so many of us are distracted by our daily lives that we fail to present ourselves when there is a need for people to show up and work to make things better for everyone and ourselves.

I don’t know how many people believe that women are less than men. I don’t know how many people believe and would like to see a stern oppression of the LGBT community. I don’t know how many people enjoy watching men interact with the toxic state of masculinity to the point of death.

I don’t know how many people prefer the current, and rising, levels of poverty and the disparity of qualities of life around the world, or how many people sit in anxious glee waiting for a potential WW3 so they can run at the enemy—whoever that will be—with the latest weaponry. I don’t know how many people anticipate the destruction of the environment by the waste that we all are producing.

I don’t know how many, though I know they exist. But I don’t think it is most of us. It just can’t be.

I would like to believe that a supreme majority of people have principles and honourable intentions.

But we have just become so disempowered by the patterns of our lives—the career, the corporate ladder, intentionally keeping up our health by going to the gym because our lifestyles have become so unhealthy, the eternal threats of shame, or jail, if we don’t pay the bills that must be paid.

This is how things perpetuate. Like a festering sore, all we need to do for it to spread deep enough into our bodies so that we need to amputate an entire limb is to keep concerning ourselves with things we perceive as much more immediate—even if we can see the sore getting bigger, darker and more threatening, and we feel it getting more sensitive to the touch.

And then, when the it is too late, we go to the doctor who rhetorically asks, “Why didn’t you do anything sooner?” And we reply, “Doctor, I don’t know.”

The truth is that we busied ourselves.

We may not be aware of the entire situation to its detail, but to some intelligible degree we know that things need to change, that if we don’t take things into our attention—in time, it will soon be too late. It may not have been our intention to lose a limb . . . but we lost it none the less.

But it is not limbs that we are risking, it is whole people, for some it is their bodies which are on the line, theirs and their families. For others, it is their mental health. And the body count is rising every day.

But we postpone that personal responsibility for change and perhaps hope that someone else will take the mantle and be self-sacrificing enough to be the next MLK or Malala Yousafzai or Mandela or Dorothy Day or Audre Lorde or Harvey Milk or even Jesus Christ.

So, I am here, at work, in those few moments of silence, and I don’t know what happened, and when, for things to get this way.

My lunch break will soon be over, and again I will busy myself with the pattern. There is so much inertia to overcome to break the loop.

And I will think about my own principles and wonder—in frustration—why nothing is being done, and why nobody is helping.


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