A phenomenon that follows and is caused by some previous phenomenon
The outcome of an event especially as relative to an individual
Having important effects or influence
Do you ever think about the consequences of your actions, or do you act first and think later? Given the violence in the world it is hard to see if anyone is actually thinking ahead…
“I was angry so I stabbed him. I didn’t mean to, it just happened, but I’m sorry for what I did.”
“I wanted to invade the country, and yes, I did kill thousands of people, but I thought what I was doing was right; but now I can see the error of my ways.”
o we actually think about what we have done is wrong, or do we wait until we are called to account for it in a court, or other authoritative agency? It seems to me that people who beat someone up, rob them, or kill them are always so sorry for what they have done, but only after they are caught and are facing a judge, who may send them to prison for a long time. They are sooo apologetic. They “didn’t mean to,” you see, and “it just happened,” and “it wasn’t my fault,” or “someone put me up to it.” Suddenly the prospect of a ten year jail sentence doesn’t seem very appealing, and we will do anything to weasel out of it.
We belong to a species that seems to act first, and think later. We never stop to think of the consequences of our actions. We think only about ourselves, and what we can get out of life. We don’t care if our actions hurt others emotionally or physically.
We have all heard the term, “survival of the fittest,” and we take that to mean that we should trample all over anyone that gets in our way. We will do anything to be the richest, the most powerful, the most dominating, whether we destroy other people’s lives, or the environment in which we live. It doesn’t matter if you are a businessman or an armed robber, if you are thinking only of yourself, you will always be hurting someone else in your quest for success.
So how do we overcome this total lack of thought? Let’s start by looking closely at ourselves, at our lifestyles, and at our jobs, and by saying that every action has some consequences.
Take the company you work for. Have you ever stopped to think what the consequences of creating your products are? “I make paper.” “I work in the mail room of an advertising agency.” “I make plastic toys.” “I stack shelves in a supermarket.” “I drive a tractor on a farm.”
All of these seem quite innocuous (lacking intent or capacity to injure), wouldn’t you say? How could a man who drives a tractor be responsible for anything that is going wrong in the world? Surely, it is the managing director of the farm that keeps millions of hens locked up in cages who is responsible for this?
But we do not live in isolation from each other, everything is in relationship. We are all part of the wheel, no matter how small a part we think we play. We make it possible for the man to keep battery hens locked up in tiny cages, even if we work in the mail room for the electricity company that supplies him with electric light.
I know a lot of you might be thinking right at this moment “What utter rubbish, this is nonsense,” but I ask you to allow your minds to open to this.
We all make it possible for people to create misery in the world by our own seemingly innocuous actions, through lack of thought for the consequences.
It may not be our own direct actions that are causing the ultimate suffering, but if you make the screws that go into the handle that goes into the gun that the man uses to hold up a bank and kills two employees, you have helped make the situation possible. I am not saying you caused him to pull the trigger, that would be nonsense, I would agree; but the consequences of you making the screw, that went into a weapon that is designed to kill people, are still your responsibility. Do you understand?
Everything in the world is connected, and every action has a consequence, whether good, or bad. It may be a long way down the line, but we can always trace it back to the source. For example, the consequences of raising a child in a violent family that is engaged in crime is that perhaps one day that child goes out and robs a bank and kills two employees.
The consequence of that family upbringing is that two people are now dead, the state has had to build a prison to keep the killer in, and people have to go out to work to pay taxes so the state can feed the man it has locked up! The state needs lots of chickens to feed the inmates, and has a limited amount of money so it gives the contract to the man who keeps his chickens locked up in tiny cages in terrible suffering. You just happen to drive the tractor that takes the chickens to the slaughterhouse where they are electrocuted, chopped up, and sent to the prison.
Nothing we do is in isolation, everything is connected. We all must learn right now that there are consequences to every thought that becomes an action, and that is why the only right way forward is to use love and compassion as our guide, because we have no idea what the consequences of our seemingly innocuous actions are having down the line…
You may be asking yourself how you would ever be able to know what actions someone was going to carry out somewhere in another country, just because you worked at some company?” And it is a difficult question, I grant you.
How could the man who split the atom know that down the line someone was going to invent a nuclear bomb because of his research, fly it over japan and detonate it, killing many hundreds of thousands of people? He could not have possibly known and we wouldn’t expect him to predict what would happen; that would be ridiculous. After all, he cannot see into the future.
So how is it possible to do anything? If everyone was so worried about what consequences their small actions would have on the world at a later date, we would never make any progress, would we? But for a moment, just reflect on the fact that everything is connected; everything is in relationship. I am to you as you are to me. He is to her as they are to others. Confused? Ok, let’s look at it from a different angle shall we?
We are saying that the world is connected; everything I do affects someone or something somewhere on the planet, now or in the future, that much is clear I think. Now we cannot possibly know what reaction there will be to my action some time in the future, as we cannot predict it, especially if the reaction is in a different area (e.g. the rearing of the child, the making of the gun, the killing of the employees, the prison, the slaughtering of the chickens), and we are saying that the only way to live is with compassion and love for all things.
It must become clear to you now, that the only way we can be assured that there is no negative effect on anyone, now or in the future, is if everyone is living compassionately, and everyone is thinking through the direct consequences of every action before acting! Can it work?
“Never!” you cry, “How can we get everyone in the world to behave compassionately and think through the consequence of every action. It is stupid, idealistic, and can never work. How can we force people to behave like that, they are all individuals.” Which is rather sad don’t you think?
We are all in relationship here on this planet, even if we don’t know each other; and when we look out at our brothers across the world, with their greed and their lust for power, killing and torturing each other, obsessed with money and material wealth, it all seems a hopeless task, don’t you think?
But hang on. I wasn’t asking the whole world to think about the consequences of their actions, I was just talking to you!
Remember this. Although you are an “individual,” you are inextricably (not permitting extrication; incapable of being disentangled or untied) linked to everyone and everything in the universe. All it takes is for one person to change, and that thought and the resulting action silently filters through everything else. That is all you have to do. It’s so easy, now we think about it, isn’t it? No longer do we have to think about changing the entire world (phew that’s a weight off our shoulders), now all we have to focus on is considering the consequences of our own actions. Living compassionately with love for all other beings. There! That should be enough don’t you think?
But I can already hear the doubt seeping into your mind: “Why should I be the only one considering my actions, why do I have to when no one else is?” But that is the individual mind talking. Once again you have to remember you are the world, and it is you. There is no “other.”
Consider the consequences of each of your own actions, and let the world take care of itself. You do not need to worry about other people, they are unimportant here. Just you and the awareness that you are undivided from the whole, which is everything. So now, lay back and let the ripples of your good work affect the universe.
You may think it cannot be this easy, and that actually, you don’t want to consider the consequences of your actions, but it’s too late. You cannot stop considering them now. The thought is implanted. Your brain will wrestle with it and you may even come into conflict with yourself, but you can’t stop now. You are changing the world. Imagine that!
Dear reader. A BIG thanks from all of us here. Yours sincerely, the inhabitants of planet earth.