Saturday, June 7, 2014

What are our Choices? by Linden Malki

Life is all choices. Every morning we have the choice to get up or not--but this is a good example that not all choices have equal consequences.  I very often have customers describe what they're doing to their car, and say "I could do.." . Yes, you probably could do it. That doesn't mean that it is a good idea or that it will actually work for any length of time.  Occasionally, a customer tells me that he found something really odd in a car he recently acquired. Sometimes I know what he found--because the previous owner told me what he  "could" do to  get the car running long enough to sell it. 

Despite Yoda's advice, yes, we can try. Sometimes this is a good choice, but often it is a  shortcut or an excuse to get off the hook.  Sometimes we didn't know things we ought to have known before trying it. And sometimes we get stuck on the idea of "perseverance", because we can't or don't want to believe that it really isn't  working.  And sometimes we say "I tried...." to excuse not actually doing the job.

" Doing something" just for the sake of doing something  better than nothing, can be the wrong thing. When I was involved in competitive debate in high school and college, the first thing a debater has to prove is that there is a need for change.  Most debate questions have good reasons on both sides of that one. There are usually advantages and disadvantages to the way things are, and it often depends on what side of the situation you are on. It also depends on your information.  If you have bad intelligence,  you may find yourself somewhere you really shouldn't be.

"Doing nothing" is also a two-edged blade.  In my business, we often have to make a decision between "while you're at it" and "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  How often do we try to second-guess God? Sometimes we think we can improve on His design--and sometimes He has left us options--but there are often unintended consequences. The history of medicine is full of practices that seemed like a good idea at the time, but turned out to either not work or create worse problems. I personally have known or experienced enough negative side effects that I have a healthy respect for the way God created us and His world.

I have spent the last few weeks moving out of a house I lived in since my grown kids were small.  I've already written about the choices of dealing with "stuff", but this last week I've run into another class of problems.  In the process of moving, I've been dealing with the electric company, and the phone company, and the storage pod company, and the postal service, all of whom have made the choice of substituting automation and arbitrary procedures for actual human competence.  As a result, I've had a couple of days of chaos.  People that couldn't reach me because they didn't update their records to my cell despite our instructions. The phone company didn't  the refer the home number as promised and couldn't  figure out how to move it to my daughter's house.  I got a recorded call at 9:30 this morning confirming an appointment that had happened at 9 am; fortunately we had someone there.  There was an express mail delivery that was promised "before 10:30". We found out the mail person drove by my store at 7:47am, decided I looked closed, and didn't even stop and knock to see if I was here (which I was), or plan his route around reasonable business hours.

God gives us many choices, and also instructions for making good choices. He also gives us the freedom to make stupid choices, uninformed choices, stubborn choices, self-serving choices, greedy choices, irresponsible choices.  Or as an old proverb says: When all else fails, read the instructions!

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