Saturday, March 05, 2005


An article I read the other day raised an interesting point, namely that Osama Bin Laden, attempting to destroy (or at least seriously disrupt) western democratic systems, unintentionally set in motion a chain of events that had actually led to the opposite of his original goal -- thus, the Law of Unintentional Consequences once again comes into play.

In other words, Bin Laden and his deluded cronies seek to get payback against America for what they perceive as meddling in Middle East affairs. So what happens? America decides to meddle even MORE in Middle Eastern affairs, resulting in a wave of democratic movements stretching from Afghanistan to Iraq and Lebanon.

Not quite what Bin Laden had in mind.

I'd never thought of his before, at least in connection to 9/11. Puts a new slant on how to view global-international relations.

Bush certainly wasn't originally elected by proclaiming his desire to spread democracy; quite the opposite. And yet, because of one madman's malevolence (alliteration alert!), he's doing his best to spread the gospel according to Dubya.

We plan to do something to achieve A, and, instead of A, we get B, which turns out to be better than A, which makes us glad that we didn't actually get what we wanted.

You order the wrong drink by accident and get a tastier one than what you had wanted.

You mean to tape Fear Factor: The U.S.Senate, but end up taping The Tony Danza Show instead, and find yourself enjoying it anyway. (Though you would never admit it. And when did he get his own show, anyway? The weird thing about living abroad is you go home once a year and discover all these people who are famous to everyone but you, and the people you do know are popping up where you least expect them.) It makes me think of something George Soros, the billionaire/philanthropist often talks about. (I mean, it's not The Tony Danza Show that makes me think of George Soros, but the Law of Unintentional Consequences. Although, who knows, maybe George Soros watches Tony Danza every afternoon. It's possible. Stranger things have happened. The fact that Tony Danza has a talk show is one of them. )

Soros states that one of the prerequisites of a free and open society is not only the ability and responsibility to make our own decisions, but also the ability to recognize that what we decide could, in fact, be wrong. A notion of our own fallibility is necessary to maintaining a democratic order, or else we simply live day to day by our own unbudgeable convictions. (Is that a word, 'unbudgeable'? As in, 'won't move'? I don't think it is, but I'm feeling very vulnerable and inadequate right now because I watched this documentary called Spellbound last night, about the U.S. National Spelling Bee, and I saw all these twelve year old kids spell all these words that I've never even heard of, let alone be able to spell, and it reminded me of how I participated in a spelling bee in Grade 7, and I was doing all right, working my magic spelling mojo pretty suavely, until I got the word 'restaurant', which I started to spell r-e-s-t-e-r only to hear Kendra Thorne in the audience clap in glee because she knew I made a mistake, and her team was the other team, not mine, and the memory still digs deep, so now I'm continuously trying to expand my bloggatic vocabulary, but I don't think it's working.) Recognizing that we have the power to make our own choices, and that those choices may not always be the correct ones, is essential to an understanding of our own democratic limits and possibilities.

The Law of Unintented Consequences allows an escape clause to any worry you might have about accepting that responsibility, because who knows? Your screw-up could actually lead to better results than your successful follow-through.

So, don't fret about your decisions. Decide, see what happens, go from there. It may not be what you planned, but you could end up with green lights all the way down the road.

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