An essay by Ali Maisam Amiri
“One flower doesn’t make it spring!”
This is an Afghan proverb many people use. This saying is used as an excuse. When people know whether or not an action is beneficial to the society but have their own personal reason for not wanting to take action, they convince themselves with this excuse. It is true that if only one person does the right thing while others don’t, nothing big changes. So, is this saying helpful or harmful? Should we encourage or discourage society from using it?
The use of this sentence allows someone to justify his or her wrong actions. There are two uses of this saying and both lead to harm. People use this saying to excuse not doing the right thing. “If only I do the right thing nothing will change.” They also use this saying to excuse doing wrong things. “If only I do the wrong thing nothing will change.” In general, this sentence supports people’s belief that they have no effect on the society. This sentence is a factor for people doing bad actions that benefit themselves but on the other hand harm others. These kinds of damages are usually the kind that cause global problems such as famines, extinction of animals, air and water pollution, lack of energy and many others. So, this proverb is dangerous and harmful to the society that uses it.
When you look at the appearance of this sentence it is mostly true — if you see one flower it doesn’t necessarily mean it is spring — there have to be flowers everywhere. The damage caused by a single person is not measurable compared to big damage done by earthquakes or other natural disasters but maybe doing the wrong thing leads others to believe that it doesn’t matter, and they do the same. When people say if only I do the right thing nothing will change, they are mostly right. What makes it not a hundred percent right is this question “which one is greater 100 or 99.” You can’t say they are the same especially in mathematical formulas. If you do, people will laugh at you and think you are joking. One number can make people laugh at you, imagine what one wrong action could make people do to you. Here is the place where you can’t say one flower can’t make it spring. So do the right thing no matter how much it affects the society.
How can we prevent people from using this sentence? Think this way, do you like spring? If you see a flower, what will you do? First of all, you say one flower doesn’t make it spring. But assume ten flowers could. What would you do? Would you try to find where they are blooming? I would. It is the same case with right and wrong actions. When you see someone doing something harmful, you should find the source and try to eliminate it. When you see someone doing something good, find the source and amplify it. But always remember that more than others, changing yourself comes first. Imagine this: you have achieved a high position in an organization, and you want to accept a bribe. This bad action is very harmful for the people. First of all, you know it is not right, imagine yourself instead as one of the people whose rights have been taken away by your actions. You would be very angry. Second is your excuse. Don’t say “my bad actions don’t have any effect on this society.” You must find what has made you want to take the bribe. Maybe you are poor; then you must eliminate this. Use good ways to make money and don’t ever think of corrupted ways. If everyone does this our society would improve noticeably.
In conclusion, I would like to say that this proverb is wrong, and I hope we can manage to wipe out the habit and the custom of using this sentence to justify our action or inaction. If we do, I think a big change would come to our society.
About the author: Ali Maisam Amiri was born May 2, 2003. His family is from Ghazni (a province in Afghanistan) and he was born in Kabul. He is in the ninth grade where his favorite subjects are math and science. He wants to become a scientist in the future and hopes to change his society by gaining knowledge and passing it on to others. He is also a member of the ROYA mentorship program.