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The Choice of Nothing

Ironically, nothingness has more layers than one may initially think. It's a great paradox that nothing is something, and one way this paradox is expressed is when nothing is a choice—the choice of choosing not to; a choice of passivity, and a choice that might surprise you in its potential significance and impact, whatever your current role in this life may be.

The choice of not doing anything can be as important as the choice of doing otherwise, of "not-nothing." You could have been a killer, a rapist, a thief, and so forth. Each day brings a new set of potentials you can choose from, and when you choose something over a lot of other choices, like the choices I just presented, you do much in your life without, presumably, even realizing it.

That is because, when you choose not to, many things and beings' paths in their existence are shifted into different directions, all because you did not choose to do something that might affect them in a significant way. Have you chosen not to be an expert thief? Congratulations, you saved the bank accounts of many. Do you refuse to force yourself on people under any circumstances? That's good, obviously, because the lives of many have been left untraumatized, when they could have been otherwise, by your very own ability to choose at any given moment.

Thus, nothing is a more significant choice than one may initially admit it is. That is because the consequences of our actions can vary in accordance to different choices, and should we choose a certain set of choices each time, the results might remain the same. However, other possibilities are erased from existence at that time, and thus by choosing to do something at an exact moment, you also choose not to do something else within said moment, leading to the unconscious power followed by the choice that you did not make, AKA nothing, which in this case, is inevitable.

Obviously, people have different sets of potentials, depending not only on their individual merits, but also on the practical power they have over people, and, for some, the world. What makes Hitler such a bad person, arguably, is that he did too much for his own sake, thus leading not only to his own demise but to the demise of Germany along with the many who have died because of the actions he made.

If he had been far less ambitious, i.e., if he had done more nothing than something, the world would be shaped differently today, with far more people being alive, especially the descendants of the ones he called to execute. Remember the killer example? The choice of not unleashing his potential as a dictator could have saved lives, and from here comes the importance of choosing nothing over something.

This brings us to an important question: when should we do something, and when, nothing? Will the deed of something be as significant as the deed of nothing? Can nothingness actually bring more benefit than harm at times?

I can answer these questions with an example: it is often believed in the world of content creation that the gaps between sharing are imperative to both your followers and to any audience that is exposed to your content. Share too much at a small time, and people will be overwhelmed. On the contrary, share too little in a long time, and people will begin to lose interest. The difference between the two completely relies on how "nothing" you "do," aka how much you avoid from publishing content.

Because of that, one can say that we technically "do nothing" all the time, as by every deed there are countless other deeds that could have been done, but were not. This is how, at least logically, your every decision is, especially considering that life is limited in time. Remember that you are more influential than you think—we all are. All thanks to the choice of nothing. The more you do nothing, the less evil you will become, and the less evil you are, the more, technically, good you will become. Doing nothing is its own good.

I will finish by pasting a short answer I wrote on Quora:

We can all technically do good by refusing to do maliciousness. It is a deed that is also a misdeed, but a conscious choice nonetheless, because if we can just stay and think more of the consequences of our actions, on whether others, ourselves or both, we can contribute to goodness through avoiding things we would’ve otherwise considered to do.

Should you take that bribe? Should you sleep with a married person? Should you kill someone to feel what it’s like? Avoid those and you will passively do good in the world.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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