Pledging is Inaction

Why do we pledge? The politicians promise a future to the people, and that is not only politicians in a democracy, but also politicians in any kind of ideological system. With that promise, a politician gains popular support, and hence power. The corporations and governments pledge for future action, of what they will do to ensure the safety and security of people and the earth. This has become so common in the field of climate change. But this habit of pledging isn't limited to only the so-called “macro” worlds of politics and policy, but takes place also in the private and personal worlds, such as our friendships and familial relationships. We promise each other so many things. It could be the promise of marriage, of staying together forevermore. It could be the promise of doing something in return, so as to get something from each other now. We might have all been through this habit of pledging, and I think it is quite important to ask ourselves, why do we pledge? Because, by pledging, by promising to do something in the future, we have definitely delayed our action to the future, so that we don't have to do anything now. So it seems, pledging serves one important purpose: preventing immediate action.

When we promise something to each other, or when a politician promises a better future, what do we have except for words and blueprints? We obviously have nothing other than that. We are constantly assured, made certain of the promises coming to realisation. But, why do we need assurance if the promise is definitely coming true? Or is it that a promise is inherently risky that assurance has become necessary? We might have all experienced this, that we promised to do something in the future, and in that time span, so many other things happened. We got distracted, or our priorities shifted, and so on. It is impossible to keep our promises unless we are extraordinarily determined to accomplish them. When we are so determined, we also become cruel, don't we? Cruelty is necessary for accomplishing a promise. This might not sound pleasing to our ears, but is this true? Is this a fact? It is a fact that, to accomplish a promise, we must control so many things and people, and in that control, we naturally abuse, manipulate, and violate. If we observe what we actually do in order to fulfil our promises, we will see that control is necessary. It is one matter, if what we want to control is willing to be controlled, which doesn't eliminate the fact that it is still controlled, or the question as to why people are willing to be controlled in the first place. But, it becomes another matter when people do not wish to be controlled, and we still enforce our will to fulfil our promises. This is the interesting fact about pledging: its fulfilment is always related to violence. And, if our purpose is to have a peaceful society, how will pledging ever help?

Another point about pledging is that it prevents immediate action. Pledging has been used to buy time, or buy trusts. Pledges and promises are like products we buy and sell. You give me a promise, then I will elect you or grant you license for political power. I give you a pledge so you can trust me to do the right thing. But, why do we rely on promises? Aren't all promises inherently empty, backed up only by words and persuasion? If something needs to be done, why not do it now? If something is really important, like peace, security, or independence, why not act now? It is quite obvious that when a snake attacks, we jump. There is the immediacy of action. There is no talk of blueprints, and we do not need to be persuaded. There is only the space and time for immediate action. What pledges and promises do is to prevent immediate action, and the natural consequence is that action will never come. So many things happen in life, both private and public, and if something is truly important, action at this moment is necessary. If we do not act now, we will never act. If we do not take our life and peace and happiness seriously, we will never do so. If we see the urgency of a crisis, we act immediately. We will shout, talk, trying to wake people up from the slumber of promises. The future is a drug. Time is a drug. It makes us drowsy, inactive, slack, and perpetually waiting for that action which never arrives.

If we see the danger and risk of pledges and promises, we do not rely on them. Then, we only face the fact. Then we ask, what are we actually doing? Instead of, what will we do? Then we give no chance for us to trick each other, to trade promises and never see anything really happen. Then, if we are not satisfied with our life, we change it now. We act now. This problem of pledging plagues the political world, so we are always slow and rigid in changing our society so that everyone feels safe and peaceful. Pledging is inaction. To act means to act now.


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Cover photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash