One of the interesting things I have found about writing a blog is the sense of obligation I feel to unseen readers. I know I have exactly six followers (the little icons show up on the bottom of the page) and a handful of other folks who have told me they read it. So when I don’t post three or four times a week I feel it niggling in the back of my mind.
One thought that has returned repeatedly in the time between the last post and this – which was by no means empty I assure you – is the use of the phrase “A drop in the bucket”. This caught my attention a few weeks ago in a story about Syria. The person reporting the International Aid provided had a very disgusted tone and was stressing that it was so little as to be meaningless. Then, as these things do, I started hearing “a drop in the bucket” in all sorts of conversations.
I couldn’t help wondering if the people on the receiving end in Syria, as much as they need a great deal more intervention and attention, were not happy to receive something rather than nothing. It is a curious attitude people often have about the worth of effort. “Choose your battles” is another one that implies futility to me. My question, which I’m sure is rich for psychoanalysis, is ‘Just because something is futile, does that mean you shouldn’t do it?’
I would love to be part of the grand gesture, launch the world-changing movement or earn a place in the history books, but that doesn’t mean I turn away from the individual kindness, the small monetary contribution or the tedium of what needs doing. It’s not even that I have a “pay it forward” mentality (another phrase that could use some critical analysis as to the self-benefit attached to “public” altruism), I think I am much more utilitarian – do what you can, when you can.
The futility calculation translates too easily into helplessness and it’s easily forgotten that drops add up and fill the bucket, that molehills piled on top of each other become a mountain. Sometimes my “something” ends up being simply sending thoughts into the world via my little blog noodlings. Conversation I am having with the world. Or myself. That part is less clear.
But at least its something rather than nothing.