Minimalism To The Max

So, this past week, Brandon and I got to have an actual disagreement on the podcast. It’s not particularly rare that he and I disagree, but it doesn’t normally involve us not understanding a bit of what the other is saying. Now, fortunately, for us anyway, that wound up being a practice run of sorts since my audio didn’t recorded. By the end of our rehearsal podcast, my brain had re-engaged enough to keep up with more of what Brandon was saying, and we came to a point that did make sense to both of us. Namely, that one of the things that really seems be a stumbling block for people is a desire to do the barest of the minimum.

When we were talking, we spoke about it mainly in the context of religion and how many people seek to just check the boxes they’ve been told they have to in order to avoid hell rather than seeking to do whatever they can to grow closer to God. Since this point was also addressed in the second recording that did actually post, I won’t spend a ton of time on it here. I do still want to say, though, that it is a blatant case of poor understanding. It makes far more sense to be an atheist than a minimalist Catholic or Christian. If you truly believe in an all good and loving God, one who went so far as to die on a cross for you, then it is ridiculous to try and skimp on your efforts in response.

Religion, though, is hardly the only place we see this attitude. At almost any workplace, you can find people who are doing exactly what their job description requires of them, to the letter. In my classroom, it is almost a given that if I mention some activity or assignment, I will be asked, “Is this for a grade?” or “How long does it have to be?” Once again, if the answer to the question about the length is a paragraph, I will be asked how many sentences do they need in their paragraph. If I tell them five sentences, I will have a large number of papers turned in exactly five sentences long, even though they haven’t completed their thought.

In truth, what I think we often miss, myself certainly included, is that when we do the minimum, it is ultimately ourselves that we cheat. If I only do the minimum of what’s asked of me as a teacher, my job will be a miserable slog. I will still have to do all the paperwork and such that I always do, but I will do it without the benefits of seeing how my best efforts can bring better efforts from my students, and some of the amazing things that even they didn’t realize they were capable of. Honestly, I’d like to issue a challenge to all of us. This week, pick one part of your life where you tend to coast. It doesn’t particularly matter whether it’s work, faith, or a relationship, but for this week, seven days, really invest yourself in it and see if nothing changes.

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