How doing nothing, really, is actually doing something

Drink, Kindle and Notebook

I was having lunch with some of my classmates the other day, and a teacher came over and said to one of them, “I’m putting you in detention.”

To which my classmate replied, indignantly, “But I didn’t do anything!”

Which got the reply, “You didn’t do your homework.”

Sometimes, it’s not what we do that counts. It’s what we don’t do. And, as such, the question is, is inaction a form of action? Can you do something by doing nothing?


I guess it’s pretty obvious already that sometimes, doing nothing is, really, doing something. If someone yelled at you, and you ignored them (or resisted the urge to reply with a fist), then, really, you are doing something.

Let me explain.

Firstly, since I like English, notice that ignoring and resisting are verbs: actions words. You can’t use a verb unless there’s an action happening, and since ignoring and resisting are forms of inaction, then yes, by doing nothing, you are doing—or saying—something.

And of course, sometimes, ignoring a person can say volumes more than anything you would’ve said to them. As is common, ignoring can mean several things:

  1. You’re not worth my time right now.
  2. There’s really nothing I can say in response, so I won’t.
  3. I forgot about you. (Yes, this kind of ignoring doesn’t happen face to face.)
  4. What was that noise? Who was that?

The point is, everything we do as an outworking of our choices are actions.

But here’s a tip: last I checked, you probably can’t get away with telling your boss/teacher/parent that by doing nothing, you were actually doing something. Because, like my friend in the story above, it doesn’t end well.

Unless you like detention.

via Daily Prompt: Resist

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