Make a Difference Day Shows Us How Really Useless We Are

Welcome back to The Complete Guide to Misery!

Each post in this absurd series promotes a different form of human suffering and encourages readers to adopt self-destructive habits that will bring them mountains of anguish.

This silliness is intended to be satire, not self-help. However, if readers’ lives are enriched in some way beyond laughter, all the better.

Despite the attempts at humor, this is not meant to make light of the suffering of blood-filled people by the world’s myriad forms of abuse.


Make a Difference Day

Today, October 23rd, is National Make a Difference Day. Americans have celebrated it, on the fourth Saturday in October, annually since 1992.

The idea is to encourage people to volunteer or do something intentional to make the world a better place.

This kind of prosocial activity is also described as being the change you want to see in the world.

“Be the change,” quote all those self-impressed do-gooders who have nothing better to do than to quote from other self-impressed do-gooders.

And it’s because they quote silly slogans that those naïve do-gooders have no friends with any sense of fun, and therefore have nothing better to do than quote Chicken Soup for the Soul to all their unfun friends.

There is so much wrong with even the idea of this annual celebration of making the world a better place that I hesitated to write this piece.

But then I decided that creating this bit of satire, this lumbering Frankenstein in prose, is my way of making a difference.


The Problem

The problem with Make a Difference Day is that it implies that what of us does individually can make the world better and that the whole enterprise is worth the trouble.

And that is the attitude of all those exhausting do-gooders.

To maximize your misery, take for granted that nothing you do will ever make the slightest difference in the world.

Actually, if you consider chaos theory and the law of unintended consequences, the chances are good that your effort to leave the world a better place will probably make things much worse.

What’s that phrase about the road to hell?

Any time you have the opportunity to be proactive and make a decision in line with your values, choose instead to be overwhelmed and passive.

I mean, seriously, with so much wrong in the world, where would you even start?  

Finally, to be really miserable in the face of an offensive day like Make a Difference, it’s critical to disregard your finer qualities and focus on your worst ones.


Karen and the Scouts

Karen had just finished rushing through her Saturday errands and was hurrying home in time to do nothing.

She stepped out of the grocery store into the path of an enthusiastic group of children, all between the ages of six and nine, from what Karen could tell, and dressed as Scouts.

“Hello,” said the leader of the group. “My name is Maia.” She looked, to Karen, like an earnest young lady who would one day be a confident adult.

“Hello,” said Karen, guardedly.

“Did you know that today is National Make a Difference Day?” asked Maia. “We’re on a mission to make people aware of the day, and are hoping you’ll take the opportunity to volunteer or contribute to the public good in whatever way works for you.”

Karen decided that this young woman was just too much and that it was time an adult let her know how things really worked.

“Even if I did have the power to make a difference,” Karen started, “which I don’t, where would I start? what on earth gives me the idea that anything I have to offer is really good enough to make the world a better place?”

Maia, confused, looked around to her fellow Scouts for an answer. They all shrugged their shoulders. One of them, the six-year-old, picked his nose and showed his discoveries to his fascinated neighbors.

“Anything I can do can surely be done much better by thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people,” continued Karen. “Besides, with my history of mistakes and screw-ups, chances are good I’d end up just messing up somebody else’s good deed. Better for me to stay home and not do any more damage than I’ve already done out there.”

Karen gave Maia and the other kids a chance to retort before walking away.

“Hmm,” she thought as she glanced one last time at a very dejected-looking Maia. “Maybe I’m wrong. Looks like I really made a difference in that young woman’s life,” she thought proudly.


What We Can Learn from Karen

Embrace Make a Difference Day, because it offers seemingly mentally healthy people the chance to be confronted by how really powerless, useless and lacking-in-character they really are.


Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more dysfunction from The Complete Guide to Misery!

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