Don’t blindly rush into ‘good’ deeds

Acharya Prashant
13 min readJan 13, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Pranam Acharya Ji, So the regards to that what must be done v/s what we want to do. A lot of things, one is Environment, Veganism, etc. We understand we have to choose one activity that is most critical. When you say critical it is like most people are affected by it. So, when I came to Mumbai here, I could clearly see a difference in the air which is in Bangalore and which is here. I feel very suffocating sometimes. So, what you said about understanding the issue, studying about the issue is probably the ideal case. So, not everybody is devoted to going to that length. So, I think wherever you are start from there. If I am planting trees in one particular area, it is definitely not harmful, it is beneficial for the people who are there, right?

Acharya Prashant (AP): It has to be thought of in terms of the overall opportunity cost. You see, you have to understand this, It’s not that you have to think of the most important issue. You also have to think of the most effective way to tackle that issue. You may very well be able to identify the most important issue. But what if you are using the least effective way to tackle that issue, and you know what is the problem with the less effective ways? The problem is not merely that they are less effective. The problem is that they make you feel that you are doing something effective. So they absolve you of your responsibility. You start saying, “You see I did my bit”, and when you say I did my bit, you became licensed and entitled to a lot of other kinds of rubbish.

I will say something with respect to this tree plantation thing. You see it is very well known that one tree over the course of 40 years would absorb just 1 ton of carbon dioxide. How effective is that, please? And that if that tree lives to get 40 years old. One tree over 40 years absorbs 1 ton of carbon dioxide. In one year how much does it absorb? 0.025 ton. Whereas, having one less child causes a difference of 60 tons per year. Now, do you want to plant trees happily, and then go home and have a child?

One child is 60 tons per year, and one tree is 0.025 tons per year. But by planting a tree you start feeling that you have done your bit, and you feel very happy. Now you can go…