Monday, March 20, 2006

Do Nothing

by Skald

"Perhaps to just sit quiet and take deep breathing exercises would be better than popping one another off with slugs of dynamite. Because the strange thing is that just doing nothing, just taking it easy, loafing, meditating, things tend to right themselves. "

--Henry Miller

What a wonderfully Taoist statement by Henry Miller. And how very true. Ours is a society driven by action. For every problem, every irritation, every disagreement.. we believe we must take action. Action, Action, Action. "Dont just sit there, do something!"

Doing nothing, however, is often the wisest course. Things do indeed have a way of working themselves out if we stop fucking with them. Oftentimes, our actions produce unexpected reactions... reactions that can be far worse than the original problem (witness the current mess in Iraq, among other things).

The more we do, the worse it gets.

The same notion applies to personal situations. Relatives of alcoholics are notorious for taking action. The spouse may, for example, beg, plead, threaten, and cajole. They may hide the liquor bottles. They bail the poor bastard out of jail. They try to force them into treatment.

But the simplest and most effective approach is to do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Dont lift a pinky to help the drinker. No money. No threats. No help. Nothing. If the drinker lands in jail, leave them there. Whatever consequences they suffer, do nothing.

The funny thing about doing nothing is that it tends to produce trust. When people think you are out to change them, they resist. They become suspicious. They fight. But when they sense you accept them completely as they are they, quite surprisingly, become more open to your suggestions.

At a political level, doing nothing is perhaps the most powerful action of all. Gandhi called it "non-cooperation". No need to fight against evil, he suggested, simply refuse to cooperate with it. Dont give your money (ie. taxes) to evil organizations. Dont lend your effort (ie. work) to evil groups. Dont obey evil laws. Dont contribute to evil systems (ie. driving a gas guzzler). Doing nothing, it turns out, is far more powerful than shouting, protesting, and writing letters to congressmen. Nazi Germany was made possible by all those "good Germans" who paid taxes, fought in the army, and generally obeyed the law.. whatever they thought of it. The American occupation of Iraq is similarly made possible by all those "good Americans" who dutifully pay taxes, drive cars, and work for defense contractors.

Here then is my simple message: chill out. Do less. Try less... in fact, dont "try" at all (simply "Do or do not", as Yoda said :)

Relax. Most of your problems will resolve themselves of their own accord. As for others, stop trying to control them. Dont even try to influence them. Be who you are,.. with "no shame for the dignity of your own experience". Do as you will, and let go.

Doing nothing is the most effective action of all.

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