Little Things Matter

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
-Leo Buscaglia
That quotation isn't entirely relevant to today's post. That's not to say that it isn't relevant at all, or I wouldn't have put it there. But this post isn't what that quotation may have led you to believe. It's easy to give a smile, or to show some simple act of caring, and yet, it's also important. But everybody knows that. It's the type of thing that people post on Facebook, or slap on a motivational picture. (Of course, whether people actually act on it or not is another question, but that's still not what today's post is about.) The reason I bring this up is because what I'm going to do in this post is expand on something that people already accept.

A smile can make a big difference. A little thing, but with a large effect. This is inspiring, so people accept it. It feels good, so people spread it. But what about can I vs. may I? ...That doesn't inspire any particular emotion at all. Let's try something else. Maybe a simple mathematical equation? 2+2*0=? What's the answer? I suspect that people would tend to give one of two answers. Some people would say the answer is 0, and other people would say the answer is 2. The latter would be correct. The reason for this is a little rule called the order of operations, which says that in any equation multiplication and division are performed before addition and subtraction, unless parentheses say otherwise.

Let's go back to can I vs. may I. In our house, it's rather common for my younger siblings to throw "may I" to the wind. "Can I" is used for everything. There's no real reason for that, as it's not any easier, but it still removes clarity. This can be applied to many things, but the reason I bring up this topic is because people will often throw these small ideas to the wind, claiming that it's a little thing, and therefore doesn't matter. "You know what I mean," they say. But I beg to differ. You know what you mean, but how am I supposed to know if you won't communicate clearly?

I once was in a conversation online where it took me about a half an hour to figure out what somebody was trying to tell me because they left out quotation marks around a particular phrase. Communicating clearly is the job of the person speaking. It's not right to expect somebody else to go through the work of deciphering your jumble of words. But this is another topic entirely, and isn't even why I brought up the topic.

The reason I brought this up is because of the political season. Chris Christie in particular was being rather infuriating in one of the debates from a while back when he was bashing on Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for talking about the goings on in the senate, saying that the American citizens don't care about that stuff. Sadly, he's correct. Many don't care, because they think that it doesn't affect them. They think that, for example, a single word doesn't make a difference. But what if the word changes the sentence, changing the paragraph, the section, the bill, the entire effect of the law? Far-fetched? A little, but not as much as you might think.

If people are paying such heavy attention to something that seems small, they must have a reason. Maybe that's just because they're being petty, but often, it's because it actually makes a difference. You may not understand it, but small things do make a difference. Being clear, closing loopholes, covering every angle, these things make a big difference, just like how one smile can turn a life around. Tugging the corners of your mouth up by about half an inch can change the course of an entire life? No, that's too small. The position of your face doesn't make a difference. ...Or does it?
 "You may think I’m small, but I have a universe inside my mind."
-Yoko Ono

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