It seems that we’ve morphed into a society that makes quick, knee-jerk reactions to situations. Probably a direct result of the instant technology supply and demand.
The cloud and airwaves and twittersphere are loaded with immediate reactions to whatever is going on. Kind of like when we used to see those tests given to people where they are told to just say the first thing that comes to their mind when they hear a word or see a picture.
Trouble is, I’m not sure my first reaction is my true reaction. My mind works a little more methodically and it takes me a few tries to get around the whole picture. Try to interpret the ramifications of different directions. Understand what B may follow A.
But once our initial, quick, knee-jerk reaction is out there, it’s out there – forever.
And no one will ever let you forget it. Or retract it. Or change it.
Even on those rare instances when someone simply comes forward and says “Man, that was a stupid thing to say, I’m not sure where it came from, but as I’ve had time to think about it, that is not what I feel or believe at all”, we attack and attack and attack (if it is a slow news cycle) and charge forward demanding changes. Punishments. Consequences.
We have become pretty good at choosing and forcing the consequences for other’s actions.
We have also become pretty good at wanting to choose the consequences for our own actions.
With all of our time-saving devices and a standard of living unimagined for the majority of the history of the world (I recently heard that if you have a garage, you are in the upper 2% on the planet – not to mention the cars that fill those garages and overflow to the driveway), we live as if we have no time at all.
We are running faster and faster and faster.
Work just a little longer today than yesterday. Give up your weekend to get the project done. Miss your children’s recital to make the deadline.
There is just not enough time.
Not enough time to get things done.
Not enough time to get enough rest.
Not enough time to take care of ourselves.
Not enough time to think.
Not enough time to think?
Wow. Now that’s a problem.
What happens when we take time to think?
We may actually see out farther than the next 20 seconds that it took to type 140 characters and hit send.
We may actually stop and ask “Do I really think that?”
Here’s a good one: We may actually stop and see how our action may impact others.
Over the course of a lifetime, people generally reap what they sow. What they put out there for the most part comes back to them. Call it scripture, call it Karma. But people who are kind generally are surrounded by kindness. People who are nasty to be around, in the end, find themselves alone with all the other nasty people.
Do we want the consequences of what we want?
The truth is that we cannot choose our consequences. We can choose our choices, our actions, our words.
But we can’t choose the consequences that follow.
No matter how badly we may want to.
Choosing to engage in sexual intimacy on a date certainly has the possible consequence of a pregnancy.
Choosing to practice dishonesty at work runs the chance of being caught and fired, and in some cases criminal proceedings.
Choosing to spew hate-filled, angry words at nameless, faceless groups of people will change not only the recipient but also the deliverer.
Damage done is damage done.
We can’t go back and wave our magic wand and change things after the fact. No matter how badly we want to.
After the fact, the time for choosing is over. It is time for facing, accepting, and working through what we have chosen.
Because the time to choose was before we turned the lights off, not after we turned them back on.
So, maybe we slow down just a little. We get a little more rest so our thought processes are clear. We take an extra 10 minutes in the morning to just be quiet, and breathe, and think.
I know when I invite Someone else into my thought process that things are clearer. I see more potential consequences before they happen. I have time to try to find a better way.
A way that will have the consequences that I really do want.
Gratefully, the day usually goes differently than it might have gone. I am constantly amazed that I don’t get what I deserve, but that things always turn out better than they would have, had I done things my initial, knee-jerk responding way.
Thank heaven for that moment to stop and think – and see.
I really do want the consequences of the things I want.