The Dangers of Inaction

A Presidential Address

Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual.

-Brian Herbert, Dune Messiah

Over the summer I became engrossed in the world of the book series Dune. In a few words, it’s the story of Paul Atreides, son of a duke with the power of prophetic vision, and his ascension to leadership on a desert world where, after fighting against the current imperial regime in a holy war, he becomes the God-Emperor of the universe. But rather than treating this as some great success, the sequel Dune Messiah reflects on how crippled by doubt Paul has become. He spends his days having visions of the future, and doing nothing to act on those visions. He is so afraid that action will lead to a bad outcome, that he might make the wrong choice and cause the futures he fears, that he just does nothing. 

I’m terrified of inaction because of how appealing it is. Things can’t get worse unless you do something, right? Doing nothing is so comfortable. Doesn’t it sound so enticing to not be responsible for anything? It’s a dangerous mindset because of how easy it is to slip into. But when bad things happen, and you have the ability to prevent them but don’t, it’s hard to deny that you might be responsible for them. This was the reasoning behind my goals for student government. To be as proactive as possible, and not to succumb to the addictive allure of laziness.

In my first two months as President, I’ve tried my best to do as much as I can. I’ve drafted a constitution to completely restructure and reorganize student government; I’ve organized sports matches and pep rallies to get the students involved and excited; I’ve done my best to reinvigorate interest in the fall dance after a year of no activities at all. Whether it’s more chairs or outlets on the senior deck or bringing back Whip’n’Dip and Smoothie King, I’ve listened to and relayed every single request I’ve gotten from students. I’ve tried my best to be as effective a President as possible. It’s fantastically stressful, and I feel constantly at risk of falling into a habit of inaction. If I didn’t take a bath with rose petals sprinkled in the water at least once a week, I think I’d collapse in the middle of Dr. Helmers’s class. 

But there are perks to the job. First of all, Mr. President is such a great title. There are different spins on it too, which is always fun: POTUS, Mr. Prez, Fatso President (thank you, Martin Jaramillo ’22). I get to see people excited at events and hear them laugh at assembly. Sure, I get blamed when something goes wrong, but that’s a double-edged sword. When something goes right, I can say that I had a hand in it. It’s a great feeling to know that I’ve done something to brighten someone’s day. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: all I want is to be of service. Nothing has been more fulfilling to me than this position, and I’ve never felt so good about myself. So please, if there is something that bothers you, if you want something done, if you have a concern, care, or wish, let me know. It is my sole and cherished duty to help in whatever way I can. 

I’m overjoyed with how far we’ve come, and excited by how far we can still go from here. Here’s to an excellent rest of the year, I can’t wait to see how it turns out. In your times of doubt and stress, when the temptation of inaction in the face of adversity makes itself known, remember the words of Alan Watts: “This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”