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Choices and their consequences

COUNTRY ROADS

The group discussion focused on advice. Given the opportunity, we were asked, what parting advice would we leave with our children upon our demise?

Several good responses were volunteered. One answer, however, made particularly good sense. “Make the right choices,” one parent said. That would be her parting counsel to her children.

Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better answer. I’ve come to the conclusion that many of our experiences here on earth ̶ our joys and our sorrows ̶ are the result of choices we make.

It sounds simplistic, I know, but as I ponder the issue I can’t dispute the inevitability. For every choice there is a consequence.

From the beginning humans have had the ability to choose. The Creator could have simply put a tall fence around the Tree of Knowledge or designed Adam and Eve to be unable to partake of its fruit. Instead, they were given the ability and the freedom to choose. Ultimately, they made a bad choice and they paid the price for it.

One need not be an historian to find historical examples of the favorable consequences of a good choice and the adverse results of a bad decision. Hindsight, of course, may be better than foresight but good choices don’t always demand 20/20 vision into the future.

Some introspection can reveal how the good choice/bad choice principle has worked in our own lives. Like the time I was slapped across the face for… well, that’s another column.

One of the problems in society is the unwillingness of some individuals to make responsible choices. They act upon impulse with little or no consideration for the consequences and then, crying “it ain’t my fault,” demand that society (you, I and Uncle Sam) rectify their problems.

To the credit of the profession, I am not a sociologist. I am convinced, however, that a number of our social ills would diminish if people would take the time to think things through and make better choices.

Making good choices, as we all know, is not always easy. I have been teased and criticized for making unpopular choices but was happy with my choices in the end. And then there were other times…

Life offers many options and the correct ones aren’t always apparent. Still, there are many areas where the right choices are quite evident.

Choosing to use illegal drugs, for instance, can lead to a life of addiction. Choosing to drive while drunk, as another example, could make you a murderer. Adultery has always had negative consequences but today choosing to engage in sex outside of a mutually faithful monogamous relationship can result in serious health consequences. Yet drug and alcohol abuse and “sleeping around” are nearly epidemic in our society.

There are many other less dramatic examples of poor choices and negative consequences. Choosing to cheat on taxes is one example. Choosing to get involved in business dealings with unprincipled characters is another. Even something as innocuous as choosing to ignore the fuel gauge in your car can bring about an unpleasant consequence.

Many of us have made poor choices, suffered the consequences, learned our lesson and have grown from the experience. That’s part of the human experience.

Too many persons, however, continue making poor choices and continue to suffer the consequences, usually blaming someone else for their “bad luck.”

It would be bad enough if this problem were limited to inexperienced young people. Sadly, there are many not-so-young adults who stumble through decades of making one poor decision after another, never willing to learn from past mistakes and always blaming their woes on someone or something else.

Indeed, some of the best advice we can give our children throughout our lives ’ by word and by example ’ is “make the right choices.”

Harry Emerson Fosdick, a prominent clergyman earlier in this century, explained it well when he said, “He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to.”

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