When was the last time you felt like going on a murderous rampage? Hopefully never, but I imagine that there are days when you just want to choke the life out of somebody. The thing that keep us from going on our ‘murderous rampage’ and other hateful acts is our sense or morality, or our sense of what’s right and wrong. Any reasonable person will realize that taking someone’s life is inherently wrong. When the issues of right and wrong are out in the open and plain to see, it is easy to make decisions. However, what happens when our sense of morality is clouded or doesn’t happen to fall in line with the societal norm? My wife calls this slip in morality the ripple-effect of consequences.
I was sitting in church listening to the pastor’s sermon. Suddenly, I wondered what would happen if I just smacked the head of the lady sitting in front of me. I wondered if her husband would hit me back, or if I would be asked to leave the church. I wondered how I would be treated in the future by my one sudden act of violence. By hitting this woman, I would suffer unforeseen consequences. What if the lady just ignored the smack? What if the lady pressed battery charges (a felony) on me? What if my wife left me for fear that I would become a wife beater instead of a church-lady beater? I could go on and on because there’s no set pattern for mapping out the consequences for slips in morality. Consequences are not as predictable as slippery slopes; at least a slippery slope has a visible bottom.
We are all walking on the eggshells of morality. One little slip could spell a lifetime of regret, torment, and consequences. I was once told a story of some Navy sailors who were in Colombia. Some sailors ignored the warnings of drug-use while visiting the country. When these sailors tested positive for cocaine, they were kicked out of the Navy. Never again would these sailors enter an area of public service. Their one lapse of judgment perhaps cost them girlfriends, wives, family, or future jobs. Unfortunately, we all could have our one lapse in judgment that sends ripple-effects of consequences throughout the rest of our lives. We have no idea who or what our actions will affect.
Another example of unforeseen consequences if of a man that hits his wife. The wife leaves the husband, taking with her their three children. The wife must work very hard in order to support the three children on her own. As a result, the children don’t get to see the mom as much, and likely don’t get to see the father at all. The three children grow up very independent of their parents and lead very disconnected lives with each other. One child grows into a man that also beats his wife since he has no comprehension of how to properly treat a woman. The man who originally hit his wife could not have possibly foreseen what his actions ultimately caused.
The issue of morality is definitely an eggshell we must all walk cautiously on. The actions we commit today could come back to haunt us years later. The ripple-effect is very real and there is no way to predict what or who is affected by our actions.
Not all consequences are bad. We can get lucky and get off with minimal or no consequences for our actions from time to time. We can also have positive results of our actions for just doing the right thing. People do tend to notice the negative behavior and actions, but people also notice when someone does what nobody else is willing to do.