Thoughts and Actions

March 16, 2017
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An old Chinese saying goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Once a person generates a thought, he needs to take action to make it come true. In John Ruskin’s opinion, “What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequences. The only consequence is what we do.” Ruskin considers that action is the only influence of outcome. However, his opinion is partially right. Indeed, thoughts and actions are actually equally important in determining the final consequences.

First, thought is the initial but crucial factor that renders the consequences. If people don’t even have a thought, they will have nothing at all to put into action. Thought is the beacon of actions and the precursor of consequences. Take China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) as an example. From a moral perspective, people should not pollute the Earth since the Earth is the vital environment for human beings to live and thrive. However, managers of CNPC still chose to directly pour toxic substances and waste water into a nearby river in order to decrease costs and increase profits, and, as a result, CNPC was indicted and punished by the government. The initial thoughts of self-interest above society’s interest generated unpleasant consequences. If the company of CNPC did not generate the thoughts of seeking profits by overproducing pollution, the bad consequence would certainly not follow, and everything would be peaceful. Similarly, corruption in China also illuminates the indispensability of thoughts. Xu Caihou, a high-status Chinese bureaucrat, received huge amounts of money from other people and then abused his political power to achieve illegal purposes. When Xu Caihou was arrested for his corruptive activities, he acknowledged that a mindset of fluke made him accept the money. The thought that “This will not be discovered.” gave him reason to become corrupt. Under the drive of selfish thoughts, the company of CNPC and Xu Caihou both met bad consequences. If they had both obeyed social rules and abandoned thoughts of selfish ideas, they would not have been punished or arrested. How people think sets the foundation for the next step. People’s minds can significantly influence the final outcomes. Thoughts and actions are actually similar to the relationship of chickens and eggs. Eggs have to come first so that chickens can be hatched. Therefore, thoughts have to be generated first so that actions can be applied.

Some people may believe that thoughts weight more than actions in determining the consequence. For instance, during the Cold War, the world dilemma was caused by people’s different ideologies of communism and capitalism. Even though war didn’t break out, the thoughts did still create a lot of tension that preoccupied countries. However, action is actually the ultimate determination of consequences, and it is equally important to thought. Although one knows what he is supposed to do, or what is truly beneficial to him, he cannot always put it into effect. For instance, my classmates and I all know that reading can widen our horizons, develop our language skills and even help us get a better grade. However, some of us actively read a lot of outside books, but others, including myself, cannot persevere with a good reading habit. Many times when I have leisure time, my rationality tells me it is better to fully utilize the time to read books, but the reality is that I cannot help myself from laying around and playing with my phone. The thought of “I should read books.” does not directly render the actual consequence of reading books. Another example happened to my father. When I was young, he told me he wanted to be an entrepreneur and open a new company. I can still remember the sparkling and intensive desire in his eyes. However, it was such a pity that my father doubted his ability and considered many options for a long time, which led him to miss the optimal opportunity. His hesitation led him to fail to realize his dream. Now my father is a professor in a university. Although he used to have the strong will to be an entrepreneur, the consequence of actually being one did not happen because of the inaction. Therefore, both examples of reading books and chasing a dream career exemplify that once thoughts are generated, people need actions to make it come true. Actions are the realization of initial thoughts. Even with great ideas, the lack of action will ruin the result.

In conclusion, thoughts and actions are equally pivotal because absence in either of them can spoil the result. On one hand, thoughts can give an indication of actions next step; on the other hand, whether people put thoughts into real actions determines the ultimate outcomes. Therefore, the relationship between thoughts and action is really close; neither of them can be absent in determining the result.

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