Monday, November 21, 2011

Speech and Action: The Perfect Marriage of Mind and Body

So many, many conversations in Klal that spew forth words in abundance about what we are doing wrong, about what needs changing. But let someone pen the words "Then we need to say these words strongly to those perpetrating the wrongs, we need to tell them in no uncertain words that change is needed" and suddenly different words come forth. "It will be bad for shidduchim so people won't get up and protest." "Group actions aren't going to work; maybe individual actions might help someone individually."

True, first a problem needs to be articulated before we can begin to see a solution. But once we see the problem clearly, then what? Will our words die unspoken, unfulfilled because we lack the gumption to back up those words with actions? It is the marriage of thoughts, words and actions that will bring about change

Just what deeply hidden fears are truly the cause of our failure to speak and our failure to act? When we neither speak nor act are we not our own worst enemies? And if all we ever do is speak but never follow that speech with action, what have we actually accomplished?

Others have written about speech and action before us; perhaps it is time to listen closely and heed the lessons. But it must be speech that is married to action that we will practice. Otherwise, when History writes the epitaph for our time period, we will be characterized as "Full of the sound and fury, signifying nothing." What is it that we truly fear about taking definite actions? We need to remind ourselves that "It is better to try and fail than never to have tried at all." Klal's problems are not going to be solved solely through a form of "verbal chair aerobics."


Words are plentiful; deeds are precious.-- Lech Walesa

After all is said and done, more is said than done. --Unknown

We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them. --Abigail Adams

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.--Harriet Beecher Stowe

1 comment:

Yael said...

I wholeheartedly agree with you about the vital importance of actions.

One subtlety I'd like to add: Your post calls to mind broad, sweeping actions. Some of the most important actions are the small ones that we take every day, the choices we make, the way we choose to live our lives.

Avraham lived in a time rife with idolatry and cruelty. What action did he take in the face of this dark age of humanity? He planted a tree, set up his tent and lived his life. He showed kindness to strangers, shared food with them, and when they thanked him, he said, "Don't thank me, thank G, creator of heaven and earth." Through his every day life, his treatment of others, and his honesty about his personal philosophy he was able to educate many, many people, and to effectuate a change in the world.

I like this model for changing the world because it makes it something that we can all do. We can all live our lives wisely. We can all show kindness. We can all take the time to reflect on our principles so as to be prepared to share them when people ask.

Not that big, sweeping actions are not sometimes necessary. I entirely agree with your post. I just felt like writing this.