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The Trouble with ‘Little White Lies’ and ‘No One is Gonna Know’

“All that is necessary for bad things to happen in this world is for good people to do nothing…” is a quote I gave to some middle schoolers last week during an anti-bullying presentation (I may have ripped off Edmund Burke with that quote… shhh). 

Most people don’t intentionally let bad things happen, at least not the big ones—an assault, cheating, or taking a life.

My beef is with “sins of omission,” or things that may be on the fringes of “evil,” or selfishness or convenience. Things like: 
  • Intentionally buying a diamond from a known dealer in blood diamonds/diamonds that have caused war or exploited indigenous or local populations 
  • Pushing past the elderly, pregnant, or disabled while exiting an airplane (I’m on flights nearly 100 times a year and I’ve seen it happen all too often)
  • Stiffing the delivery guy or undertipping the waiter 
  • Using copious amounts of plastic bags when paper is available (there are heaps of floating bits of plastic in the Pacific Ocean and several others)
  • Littering or defacing public or private property 
I know some of those things are inconvenient. Life gets in the way. You’ve got to take your kid to a recital, you want to save money, the cat has to go to the vet again, the newest season of Better Call Saul just came out on Netflix (#bingewatch). I’m right there with you. I get it.  

That one seemingly tiny action that you take outside of your creature comforts—taking a shorter shower, or helping the old lady across the street when you’re in a hurry—it may seem minuscule. But when millions and billions of “minuscule” actions are added up, the results can save lives, offer hope, move mountains, and even change the world and the course of humankind. 

We’re all in this together as a species and as creatures who, at their very base, want very similar things.

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