More than a feeling

I have come to realize that feelings don’t count for much. What does count is the action–or inaction–that accompanies them.

I’m not saying that feelings are worthless. On the contrary, feelings measure what is important to us, and they often serve as the launch pad for the deeds and behaviors that make us who we are. They can spur us toward activity or leave us huddled in a corner. But feelings without actions are just, well, feelings. They don’t do anything.

Think of it this way. Say you really appreciate a co-worker’s diligence and appreciation to detail. Does that appreciation make a difference to anyone if you keep it to yourself?

Or you love your kids, your mom, your spouse, your dog. Until you demonstrate that love through your actions, does it matter to them? How does your good feeling translate into something meaningful in their lives?

Or say you didn’t get a promotion you thought you deserved and now you’re disappointed and angry. Can’t you give value to those feelings by letting them drive you to work harder, perform better, and speak up for yourself?

Of course, feelings can also spur negative action or even paralysis. Regardless, if left untended and unacted upon, feelings only matter to the person experiencing them. Whether positive or negative, it’s not the feeling itself, but rather the demonstration of it that makes it count to anyone but you.

Love someone? Hate the way your neighborhood looks? Enjoy a friend’s company? Appreciate a staff member’s initiative? Feel sad for a friend who is suffering? Then do something about it. Otherwise, you’re the only one who cares.

In your face

Little did I know that my visit to the Eiffel Tower last week would coincide with an organized demonstration. As we approached the monument from the Trocadero side, we saw that a group of spectators and press had amassed off to the side, with the tower as a backdrop. Edging closer, to my surprise and my 13-year-old son’s delight, we saw a cluster of women who were stripped to bikini panties, holding signs that proclaimed, “Muslim women, let’s get naked!”

Bemused more than shocked, I took advantage of the photo op and moved on to other things. After I returned to the States, I decided to look up the demonstration to see what it was all about. It turns out that the focus was intended to protest the objectification of women. Hmm.

While I certainly don’t want to be viewed as an object myself, I wonder if this is an effective way to communicate the cause. Yes, it got a lot of attention, but I’m pretty sure that most people were drawn in by the spectacle and probably don’t remember much but the naked bodies.

Women or men, we don’t want to simply be bodies. We want to be intelligent, funny, engaging creatures, remembered for our contributions rather than the way we look or the space we fill. In this case, if no one remembers the speech because everyone has been so captured by the nudity, hasn’t the demonstration accomplished exactly what it was trying to eliminate? Then again, I did look it up to learn more, so maybe it did have some positive effect.

I’m still pondering, but I’d like to know what you think. Comments, please!