There’s a difference between doing what’s right and doing what works.
Ideally, the two would always go hand in hand, but sometimes they come apart. Sometimes the right thing doesn’t lead to a desirable result.
Our acts of generosity, for instance, aren’t always greeted with a level of appreciation that seems appropriate.
The respect we show to others, for instance, isn’t always reciprocated.
The sacrifices we make in order to create value and opportunity for the people we love aren’t always recognized.
Do examples like this prove that it’s a waste of time to be generous, respectful, and compassionate when our deeds go unrewarded? Absolutely not.
Over the long run, doing the right thing tends to lead to more victories than losses, but the short run often includes painful moments of disappointment and disillusionment.
Doing good is like going to the gym. It feels like you have to put forth a lot of effort and you rarely see visible results on the same day. But once you understand how it really works, you start to trust the process and things begin to feel a little more feasible and fun. And after awhile, you start to see the evidence trickling in.
So if you’ve been working hard doing things you believe in and you don’t feel like you’re getting the love you deserve, take heart and keep at it. Doing the right thing(s) will eventually pay off, but it’s not going to happen over night. And that’s a good thing. Because the stuff that’s built to last is usually the stuff that’s praised the last.
T.K. Coleman is the education director for Praxis and an adjunct faculty member for the Foundation for Economic Education.