Choices

Horace said, “He has the deed half done who has made a beginning.” Indira Gandhi also thought that getting on with getting on is the way to go, “Have a bias toward action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy joined the get your get up and go up and going chorus when he said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” And perchance you think that people will simply assume that you have good intentions without your actually needing to go for it, the famous Anon pointed out, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg.”

There you have it, the argument for not sitting around twiddling your thumbs; but, as with most ideas, there is an alternative point of view. One might suppose that it’s now time to dig in, go for the gusto, strike while the iron is hot, expatiate, explicate, and generally expound on that alternative point of view; but one would be wrong. Remember Johann von Goethe’s warning, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

If that isn’t sufficient to slow the pace, also remember Walter Kerr’s observation, “Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.” It would be well to first determine whether one is clever, an idiot, or merely a clever idiot before jumping to an ill considered conclusion. If all of that still doesn’t put the brakes on for you, persuade you to look before you leap, and convince you not to jump off the cliff until you learn how to fly, listen to Laurence J. Peter, “Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.” And speaking of misfortune, even Horace advised you to put no trust in tomorrow.

OK, you’ve got them, the alternative points of view. Do you act or not act, take a chance or play it safe? Sure, you need to seize the day but it’s worth pointing out that you can usually wait till after lunch.

Now you know so there you go.