“You can’t be detached and effective” (Abba Eban).
EFFECTIVENESS ALMOST ALWAYS REQUIRES INVOLVEMENT. In sports, for example, the spectators’ enthusiasm may be a factor, but basically, the outcome is determined by those who are involved in playing the game on the field, not by those who are just watching.
The concept of “involvement” is an interesting metaphor. The Latin verb involvere was a compound made up of in (“in”) + volvere (“to roll or turn”). Literally, then, if two things are “involved,” they are “rolled together” or “intertwined.” With this picture in mind, when we say that a person has gotten involved in some activity, we mean that he or she is “wrapped up” in it. Previously, they may have viewed the activity passively or from a distance, but now they and the activity are intertwined, like the strands of a rope. No longer are they passengers, spectators, or commentators — now they are involved.
Don’t we need to be more involved with life and its worthwhile activities? I believe we do. In my own life, I constantly battle the temptation to back away from things, to remain passive. And to the extent that I give in to that temptation, I am the loser. What about you? In all honesty, what do you see in your life: a pattern of courageous involvement and engagement, or a tendency to take the easy way out and remain passive? Are you “intertwined” with life or not?
I like to look at the difference between involvement and non-involvement as the difference between going forward and going backward. Am I going to get involved and engage this difficult, unpleasant thing that is on my “to do” list, or am I not? If I go ahead and get involved with the thing, I move forward, but if I back away from it and remain passive, I lose ground. It takes effort to overcome inertia and engage life, but there is no other way to avoid going backward. And if we’re going backward, we’re not really living; we’re dying.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “Act — act in the living present, / Heart within, and God o’erhead.” I challenge you to do what Longfellow said: act. Be wise and careful, of course, but get involved and act. Life’s a great drama, so participate and play your part!
“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).