“The little things mean something. Act by act, deed by deed, it means something. Even if no one notices or cares.”
– Harvey Bullock, Gotham
Season 5, Episode 5, “Pena Dura”
Hope can be found even in the most unlikely of places, including a hard-boiled cop that isn’t generally known for such.
When Bullock says this to a young Bruce Wayne, it is in the midst of a tremendous ongoing crisis. The world around them is ending, and the people around them, people they love, are giving up hope, giving up on being good. Bruce is very discouraged, so Bullock, very familiar with this, shares what works for him. When he’s overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do, he goes through the files, the paperwork, the cases on his desk. Instead of weeping about how bad things are, or bemoaning what he can’t do, he does what he can do. The world is ending? He sits down and gets to work.
That’s a practical, powerful approach, and Bruce asks him why he does it. Which is when he says the above quote. It rings true, doesn’t it?
People talk about the big things all the time, be they bad or good. They talk about wars, diseases, disasters. They talk about huge political movements, national elections, social unrest. They talk about the latest and greatest fill-in-the-blank topic, be it successful jobs, large paychecks, glamorous parties and beautiful wedding receptions, cars, computers, blockbuster movies, and whatever else. They talk about volcanic eruptions, massive forest fires, tsunamis, and all that.
Now, while all of that may warrant discussion, and should not be ignored, I think we sometimes lose track of all the little things. We forget them. We forget how important they are. All those “huge” things? They’re made up of little things.
Wars are made and won or lost based on a multitude of small decisions made by millions of people.
A tsunami is made of a lot of individual drops of water put together, just like an avalanche is a lot of snowflakes or pebbles.
Political movements? All based on every individual’s decision.
Massive companies that make billions of dollars every year? Built on the labor of many individuals who simply do their job. (I take some satisfaction in knowing that my job, however lacking in glamor, is both honest and useful in its way)
Public safety? Officers, firemen, and paramedics, properly trained and equipped.
The military? Same thing.
Good financial standing? Saving and spending with prudence and temperance.
Large pile of money? Large pile of pennies. (or whatever currency you use)
A long and happy marriage? The little decisions where husband and wife work together and make the little sacrifices for each other. Also: the little decisions that helped them find each other in the first place and pursue said relationship.
Necessities provided? Going to work every day, putting in the hours.
Lasting love? Saying, “I love you.” And behaving accordingly.
Integrity? Every promise kept, every vow honored, every truth told, every lie refused.
It’s all in the little things, because little things are what big things are made of. They don’t have to stand out. They don’t have to be famous. They don’t even have to be publicly appreciated in order to mean something.