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Faith in action; Or, Action, in faith

  1. In the long run, the ultimate effect of any change in the world is impossible to predict.
  2. This means that it’s impossible to evaluate whether any change is good or bad in the (very) long run.
  3. In the absence of this knowledge, we face a choice between doing nothing (ever) or doing the best we can with what we have – that is, doing what we can do make things better based on what we know.
  4. This is a kind of faith.
  5. And it’s not really a choice.
  6. In faith, we need (we are compelled) to take three types of action:
    a) Practical action to make things better based on the information available to us;
    b) Action to increase what we know, so that we can take better action in future;
    c) Action to make us better at taking action – to increase our energy or capacity or to improve our character, making us more likely to be the sort of person who takes good action.
  7. Doing 6(a) is often the best way to do 6(b) and (c).
  8. Most of the things we can do will be small, specific and local (close to us). The smaller, more specific, and closer to you a change is:
    a) The more relevant and important it is likely to seem to you;
    b) The easier it is to carry out in terms of the knowledge and energy needed to do it, and the ease and speed with which barriers to the change can be identified and overcome (the more complete the information you have, and the faster you can iterate);
    c) The more predictable its (short term) effects.
  9. Some examples of small, specific actions that have relatively predictable short term consequences:
    a) Cleaning something that needs cleaning;
    b) Repairing something broken;
    c) Doing some exercise;
    d) Putting some music on (or making some);
    e) Completing a small, discrete task: answering an email, paying a bill, cooking a meal, watering a plant, feeding a pet.
    f) Doing something kind for someone else;
    g) Making something (small), or taking the next smallest step towards something you’re making.
  10. These kinds of things are highly available, highly achievable, and highly likely to have positive outcomes that are relevant to you and those closest to you.
  11. If you don’t consistently do (many) of these kinds of things, what makes you think you’re capable of making bigger, less specific, more complex, less-highly-likely-to-be-positive changes at a greater physical and social distance from you and the people you love and have an immediate influence on?
  12. World change (! – see 1 above) starts with doing the basics well.
  13. Your authority depends on it too.

See also:
The Toolkit – Part 0: Action. Now. (1) – action first
Setting the bar low
Do it now: Fred Rogers on action, life and learning
What prompts vision for change? What drives us to action? What happens next?
Clarity. Simplicity. Focus. Action. (Redux)
Being prolific

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...