Changing Minds is a Waste of Time

If I want to change the world, I need to take world-changing action.

I know how obvious that sounds, but I don’t think it is something that many of us take to heart. We spend our time, often with the best intentions, on actions that will only minimally create change. Namely, we spend a lot of time talking and working through institutions that don’t bring about results.

I can spend all my time trying to change hearts and minds but, at the end of the day, it is just talking and won’t really change the world. After a lot of hard work I might change a few minds, I’m sure that if I dedicated myself to it I could maybe change one mind a month. Or maybe, if I write a persuasive book I can change a thousand or ten thousand minds. That is all overly optimistic, most of our time trying to change people’s minds is a waste of time, energy, breath, and pixels.

Talk may actually make things worse because it wastes time. As Ryan Holliday says in “Ego is the Enemy” (you should read that book), “The only relationship between work and chatter is one kills the other”. The more I talk the more I feel like I’m actually doing something when in reality I’m mostly just spinning my wheels. I get that endorphin rush and a feeling of mental masturbation because I’m “doing something”, but the world remains unchanged.

True revolution comes through innovation and entrepreneurship. Like that old saying goes, “The Amazon Kindle has saved more trees in the last decade than Greenpeace has since their creation”. If you want people to change their behavior then you need to provide them with alternatives and not just preach at them. Pulling at the heartstrings (or logic) may feel pure and good but, in the end, we are all self-interested and will pursue our own desires. As that crazy Scot once said:

“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

If I want the market for animal suffering to shrink (and I do) my time and energy would be better spent bringing alternative meats, cheeses, and milk to the market than yelling at people about animal rights or sharing grotesque videos. And same if I’d like to see fewer abortions, my time should be spent providing alternatives to abortions instead of damning people or appealing to emotion.

No matter what my passion… fewer suffering animals, a greener earth, a better education system, or space travel, my time should be spent creating. Creation is a stone, words are dust.

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