Lockdown learning: #11 Choices and consequences

A short series of 2 minute observations…

I like having choices… but not always the consequences!

As we hit week 14 of lockdown I am reminded of how what seem like local choices that have led to our current situation.

How does hygiene in a Chinese market come to have such a profound impact on the whole world? Such small actions have led to a pandemic that has impacted the whole human race.

It is a stark reminder of our interdependence in this world. We live in a web of cause and effect and our choices shape this for good or ill or both!

Sometimes we like it: wielding a golf club successfully; when we make a job choice that works out well or hold that BBQ on a sunny day (rather than the adjacent wet ones).

Sometimes we don’t: when we carelessly drop a knife and damage our nice wooden floor ☹️ . When we don’t allow enough distance between us and the parked car and break a door mirror.  When we rely on someone and they let us down.

Bad consequences normally mean pain and hurt which we don’t like. We try to avoid them. Yet they play an essential role – feedback to help us to learn how to live and to stay healthy. Indeed there is a lot of evidence we rarely change our behaviour unless it stings or hurts – physically or verbally. A muscle twinge warns us off more serious damage. A bruised ego can  lead us to better decisions. The absence of this is disastrous: lepers become maimed, disfigured and can die simply because leprosy stops them feeling pain and infection in their bodies.

We rely on consequences. Our society and world would not work without them – but sometimes they are scary and often they are more significant and interrelated than we realise. Many things can’t be undone.

I love the story about archaeologists researching the Dead Sea scrolls. They realised locals had known about the caves containing these scrolls for years – fragments of parchment were all over the place. So they offered money in exchange for each piece of paper handed in and the locals obliged …with lots of pieces, many  ripped from bigger bits to earn more of a reward!

Good choices come from owning consequences – even if we make mistakes. That can be tough but its a big incentive to think round our decisions, look ahead and consider possible consequences – to people, events and our own options and wellbeing.

As I write this Siberia is experiencing temperatures 20-25 degrees above normal. Yet another consequence in a system reacting to our choices and actions.

Our ability to choose is a great gift but definitely one to be used wisely.

In big and little choices, we can often get what we choose but not what we really want.