My boss always leaves me fun things to read, and he recently let me skim through a study guide from a Bible study class that had a really interesting chapter on people who try to do just enough to get into Heaven, but no more than that. That stuck with me, because it’s the time of the year built on the idea of rebirth and renewal, and I realized that a lot of us might be stuck in a patten of “lukewarm goodness.”
“Lukewarm goodness” is the idea that you don’t over exert yourself, that if you do just enough, you’ll still reap the entire reward. Think of it like a person that has steak, baked potato smothered in sour cream and butter, and glazed carrots, but doesn’t get dessert, so they fully believe they’re eating healthy and will reap the benefits.
When I talk about lukewarm goodness, I’m not talking about people who can only do good things in small ways: people who can only afford to give a donation to charity once a year, and who can attend one fundraiser, or only picks up trash on the side of the road during the spring and summer. I’d argue that the person who picks up trash, who gives a donation, and who attends a fundraiser, they are doing their part because it’s the best they can do with their time and resources.
No, I’m talking about the true epitomes of lukewarm goodness: the keyboard warriors in our community. Y’all know who I’m talking about: the people that think that just because they share a post, they’ve made a massive difference. The ones who have the grandiose ideas of just what’ll fix everything that’s ailing with our community and constantly post about it. The ones who whip everyone into a frenzy about an issue and pledge their undying support to make it happen, whatever it takes.
When you ask them to actually get their hands dirty, to do the real work, all you get is the sound of crickets. Suddenly they just don’t have the time, they don’t have the money, but really what they don’t have is the commitment.
We all know these people: as a whole, nice people. They use their turn signals, they don’t cut line, and they aren’t criminals. But they truly believe that their internet actions of sharing posts and having long diatribes about the ills of Jackson County is somehow “making things better.”
It’s not. You do not make things better simply by sharing and liking. You make things better by doing, and if you can’t do on a grand scale, you can always do on a smaller one. The key is: you have to actually DO something. If you’re complaining incessantly about our homeless problem, but suddenly can’t be reached when the real work to fix the problem needs to happen, you aren’t part of the solution. Real problems only get solved when people are doing the hard, boots- on-the-ground work to solve them.
The irony of writing about saying instead of doing in a column is not lost on me, and it’s made me evaluate the instances of lukewarm goodness in my own life. We’re all guilty of it, of getting wrapped up in a cause only to figure out very quickly that we’re just not THAT invested, when the investment requires more hours and effort than we’re willing to give. It is perfectly okay to have strong feelings about a cause and to voice those feelings.
It’s not okay to voice them over and over, to be critical over and over of the people working on solutions, to proclaim how you could do it better over and over, and then when given the chance to show it, you balk immediately at doing the work. Find out about our county’s issues, get educated on them, discuss them, for sure, but be prepared to have to put your words into actions. If you can’t, then you also can’t be surprised if people doubt your sincerity, and after so many times, they’ll doubt your level of goodness too.
Use our entrance into spring as the time to evaluate your perceived level of goodness: are you actually helping the causes and people you profess to care about, or are you just making yourself feel good with the least amount of effort? Then decide whether you’re going to commit to actually doing something to make our community better, or if you’re going to settle for just doing the easy stuff and hope that’s enough.
Spoiler alert: it’s not. So don’t just do enough: do everything that needs done to make the change your internet posts say you want to see. Bring some renewal to your soul by committing to doing everything you can for the causes you’re really passionate about. And for the ones you care about, but just can’t commit to? Follow the updated version of a time-honored tradition: if you can’t post anything helpful, just hit the like button, and then say nothing at all.