National Comment Comment

Our actions should speak louder than our words

Stop your preaching and stop your complaining, if you care that much you need to actually do something, writes Oscar Bentley

Photo Credit: Eric Kilby
“Stop complaining about it and do something about it!” is a cry you’ll often hear returned when you’re moaning something isn’t as you’d like. Whether you’re complaining that something about your life, politics, or the entire world needs improving, the argument that the only way to make something better is to take it into your own hands is, well, one that not many can deny.

I think we all are, myself included, culpable of this apathy. A lot of us complain about things, either to our friends or on Yorfess, without actually bothering to try and change anything ourselves. In most cases, simply saying something takes no effort at all, but taking the dive to getting up and doing something is the real challenge.

Take the example of palm oil, There’s been a lot of noise surrounding palm oil and the devastating impact it is having on the Amazon rainforest in recent years, with 66 million tonnes produced annually, and palm oil plantations covering over 27 million hectares of the world’s surface. Palm oil is a product widely derided as terrible, and one that, of course, we should stop using – but I doubt the actions of most people match their rhetoric. It’s something that I’ve found I also did, bemoaning how destructive palm oil was while not actually checking whether it was in the products I was buying. So, my New Year’s Resolution this year was to avoid buying things with palm oil in. It may be a hard task – palm oil is in a lot of products we use regularly – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. It was an instance where I realised I complained a lot, but I wasn’t actually doing anything about it myself.

Another example is giving to charity. While I think lots of us would like to consider our-selves charitable people, how often do we actually give? My housemate has spent the past two years heading up York’s Effective Altruism society. As much as the rest of our house may lightly mock him about it, Effective Altruism is an incredibly sound philosophy to live your life by. It’s based all around stopping moaning and doing something, making a difference to the world by doing the most good on whatever level you’re able to.

Giving What We Can is an offshoot organisation that suggests giving ten per cent of your in-come (or one per cent if you’re a student or in times of unemployment) to the most effective charities; the charities that, based on analysis, will do the most good with the money you give. I accept that to some, this may s e e m like a great thing to do, but they really can’t afford to give anything. But for those who can, what a great thing to be able to do! Finally putting your money where your mouth is, and giving to make the world a better place. As I’ve said above, talking the talk but not walking the walk is something I’ve been guilty of my-self. Rather than simply bemoaning I should regularly give to charity, it’s something that, when I can afford to, I’m now actively going to do.

Apathy is one of the greatest hindrances in the world. If everyone put their physical efforts be-hind what they believe, the world would be a much better place. Whether by campaigning for organisations to divest from fossil fuels or stop-ping your meat consumption, improving the life chances of those less well off than ourselves by regularly giving to charity, or even trying to make this University a better place by running in the Students’ Union elections.

Stop talking. Start doing

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