Propaganda of the (good) deed

There is a concept within Anarchism called the “Propaganda of the Deed”. It says that one act of visible violence will move people to awaken and rebel. Yet, this is a concept that finds its conception in doing kindness. We find it mentioned in the Bible, in the need for our love to be found in action and deed.

And so I say we embrace this idea, wholeheartedly. No, it is not a novel concept. But one worth mentioning repeatedly and worth fighting for.

We can, through our actions, change the world. Our one act of kindness may set off a chain of events that results in something truly magnificent. That is to say nothing of the inherent good of doing a good act. That is not my focus here, however.

I am at my base, one of many such stances, a meliorist. Meliorist is simply a fancy word meaning that I believe that the world may be made better through human action. But with such grand notions, we sometimes miss the trees for the forest. Our eyes can not see the individual moments while astonished by the shear volume of good that needs to be done.

We must learn to see the individual good we can do, which can inspire others to individual good, and in turn lead to a greater collective good in the world. I will vastly underestimate this and say that in any given day, there are 5 good deeds that we may do. In reality, there are most likely so many that we could scarcely count them if we tried to look for them. I digress. What would the world look like if we acted on just one of those a day?

And what if, once a week, another person took notice and began to do the same? Within a year, our communities, if not our country, if not our world would look very different. Yes, it is idealistic. But we must believe in the ability for the world to change if we are to attempt it. We must believe in the ability of the individual to see a selfless act and be spurred to selflessness.

No, there will not be perfection. There will always be those who refuse to do good. And they must be allowed to have that choice. But we can not abandon the hope for a better world for the sake of a few. We must be willing to do good, whether it is one life we change or thousands.

Let us focus on the one life, though. Each day, just one life, one deed. Let it be as simple as holding a door for someone, buying someone lunch, giving someone with a broken heart a hug. Love is not complicated. Don’t make it so.

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