What You Don’t Do Is As Important As What You Do

Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny. -Tryon Edwards

A few months ago, I was with a group of friends having coffee and some of the women started talking about shopping and looking for sales. One of the men in the group mentioned that he had a friend who was selling all different kinds of stuff at 1/4 of the retail price. If they were interested, he would be willing to go pick some up and bring it over for them to look at. Now, I guess I don’t have to tell you that the women got very excited and practically pushed the guy out the door to get the stuff.

He came back with everything you could imagine; baby clothes, cleaning products, food, and accessories for the house… It was like being at a flea market! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Where did all this stuff come from? No one seemed to care. They just couldn’t believe they were getting such an amazing deal.

I am not much of a shopper so I stayed back and watched the others; (for those who know me you know how I love to observe people’s behavior). As everyone was sifting through all the stuff, one man stood out above the rest! When he was asked to join the others and told that he was missing out on an amazing deal, he asked, “Where did all this stuff come from”? Everyone starred at him, rolled their eyes and laughed. They told him not to be so naive. That he should just take advantage of this, it did not matter where it came from.

His exact words were, “I will not choose to be a part of an act that goes against my values. Even though I do not know where it came from, if I buy any of it, I am encouraging the act that brought all this stuff here.” The others just laughed at him, telling him he was too serious. One person actually tried to convince him to see it from a different perspective. He used an example of how we are constantly being robbed by all the taxes and high interest rates the credit card companies charge us, this is just a way that someone found to make up for it. No one is getting hurt.

He spoke one final time. “No one is stealing from me when I pay taxes and I willingly applied for a credit card knowing what the interest rates would be. I had my apartment broken into twice; my stuff was resold the exact same way it is happening now. I went through the shock of coming home to see that my house was broken into. For days I lived in fear that it would happen again. Do you realize how stressful a situation like that is? The person who did it, must of thought to himself “he will get reimbursed by the insurance company and get all brand new stuff, I am not hurting anyone.” We all have a choice in life, a choice in the actions we take. We do not however have a choice in the consequences our actions cause. We are responsible for those consequences.”

Just then the most amazing thing happened. One woman put everything she had in her hands down. She turned to everyone and told them how disgusted she was over her behaviour. She agreed that in buying this stuff, she was encouraging an act that also went against her values.

This man showed integrity, he was able to stand up to everyone even though they laughed at him. He even inspired one person to have a change of heart! He was not taken in by others’ weaknesses. Although he was laughed at and considered a fool, he was not intimidated by their actions and words. His strength and confidence was powerful. Imagine if everyone was able to inspire just 1 person the way this man did…

People will tend to have the need to justify their actions and behaviours when confronted that they have committed an immoral act.They believe themselves to be good people, so, to protect their self image, they will defend themselves in trying to make a wrong a right.This behaviour confirms their weaknesses. Only a strong person is able to take the time to realize that their actions will have an impact on others. Furthermore, the consequences of their actions and beliefs hold them back in achieving growth. We are all constantly faced with temptation. That day I became aware of how often it happens in different ways. People are tempted to put blame on others to hide their mistakes. They are tempted to seek revenge. They are tempted to point out others’ fault in an effort to hide their own weaknesses. Whether their temptations are to achieve power or pleasure, they will find a way to justify their actions. Through it all, they plant a seed within themselves. What will that seed grow into?

Think about your actions, no matter how much you feel they are justified, ask yourself, if someone would do to me what I am about to do would I still consider it to be justified? Resisting temptation can only be conquered by the strong and courageous…giving in to temptation does not give you power, it is the easy way out for the weak to remain in their comfort zone!

I want to go back to the woman who chose to put everything down. When she heard the man’s words, she took a step back and analyzed her actions and thought about the consequences they would have. She immediately understood that what she was doing went against what she believed in and decided to not give into temptation. In that moment, she not only grew as a person, she gained inner peace and strength from having made this choice. A message that she will pass on to others including her children!

I have attached an episode of the Twilight Zone that portrays this situation; it is the full 20 minute show. Take the time to watch it. What do you think the message is at the end of the episode?

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This entry was posted in Cleansing Your Beliefs, Power to Let Go and tagged , , , , .

3 Responses to What You Don’t Do Is As Important As What You Do

  1. Sounds like the movie’s message is ‘what you do around comes around’, and don’t stare\gaze at temptation, do what ever it takes to run from away from it….or else the pressure of immediate gratification , that sensation will get too overhelming , making it impossible to resist. …I’m glad though to have found out also that fortunatly, not all of our wrong doing back lashes! And I can’t explain yet the full phenomenon being it; why for some people their wrong doing get back at them, and for other it doesn’t.

  2. Nathaniel Flint says:

    “Luke, you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”

    ―Obi-Wan Kenobi

    It sounds tacky doesn’t it? Probably because Obi-Wan Kenobi doesn’t ”really” exist and comes from a sci-fi movie on top of that; he seems to have no credibility because of these facts. But really, behind Obi-Wan, there are ”real” people that fathered him and his thoughts. I’m not sure if these people who ”invented” Obi-Wan and who put words into his mouth are better or worse than Tryon Edwards but then again, maybe it’s irrelevant because it goes back to what Obi-Wan is saying: it depends on your standards or your point of view.

    The same is with how I perceive Antonia’s ideas in her text here above.

    You may agree or disagree but who’s right really?

    It seems to me that the main point of view expressed in your text Antonia (or at least what it looks like it is underlying, as I understand it) is greatly based, again and maybe I am being redundant here, on the idea of survival. It is a fundamental concept in our life and, to a certain extent, common to all life on this planet.

    Religions have doctrines, dogmas (however you want to call their ”legal status”) whose focal point is survival (through domination), often of a selected group. We also have laws to help us out with coercion. There are things you can do and others you’re not allowed to.



    Hyenas steal a dead prey from a lioness. They’re are hungry, they want to eat. We have ethics, they don’t (at least I think that they don’t but it they have it’d probably called instinct) so they steal. It is easier for them to scare away a single lioness than to try and hunt the prey themselves because they’re not very well adapted to hunting big games that probably run faster than they do.


    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for stealing or going against the ”law”, I’m just not a partisan of the laws based on emotional reasons or ethical ones in the sense of ”right or wrong”; just practical ones, selfish at that.

    ”Laws” differ greatly depending on the regnum. We have ethics, which is a kind of our own internal, personal laws that we abide to out of our own free will and, like our friend Tryon Edwards say, out of habit.

    If I could, I’d like to cite Emil Cioran here.

    “In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games.

    Idolaters by instinct, we convert the objects of our dreams and our interests into the Unconditional. History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable. Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it; depleting himself to create fake gods, he feverishly adopts them: his need for fiction, for mythology triumphs over evidence and absurdity alike.”

  3. Sylvain says:

    That text of yours reminded me of something else related to “taking responsibility for our acts”. These days, we’re at the end of the year evaluations period at work… and amongst the items you’re evaluated on is “taking responsibility of your actions”.

    Each time I always explained my supervisor that yes, I assume full responsibility for my actions and when I do errors I do all I can to fix them. But I always add something that “But it also means I’m not taking responsibility for errors done by others.” I’m willing to help fix others’ wrong doing… but that doesn’t mean I’m sharing accountability on those.

    I remember seeing that episode of “Twilight Zone”. At the end, you see in the woman’s eye she figured out the scheme… she might be the one killed when the next person presses the button… and she doesn’t like the idea.

    It leads back to the old saying “Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t like to be done to you”. And the moral meaning is “treat others with respect/love/kindness (whatever concept you want) if you want to receive the same in return”.

    There are many variations of that saying… as it is a root message in many religions and other faith concepts… and was often adapted to various circumstances to explain to adapt it to the audience (like kids). One the most colourful one being “Don’t spit on the air.. or it might fall back on you”. 🙂