Whether we are conscious of it or not, we determine certain basic features of our futures via our present thoughts and actions at every turn.
These might be seemingly little things, like “If I use the last of the milk tonight I won’t have any for my coffee in the morning.” But also bigger things, like “What if providing for my family’s present needs makes it harder to provide for them in the future?” A choice calculus of some kind is implicit in all we think and do.
But there is also always some level of uncertainty involved. Likewise, we can never be absolutely sure if we are making the right choices. And often the choices we make come down to available resources, affordability, and/or convenience. That is just the way it is. Right?
I might use the last of the milk if the store is close, there is more milk to be had there, I have money to pay for it, and I feel like going to get it before going to bed.
Or maybe I know I can stop at a ‘drive thru’ on my way out in the morning, and I will be okay with paying more to buy a ready-made brew then.
And maybe I will burn fossil fuel along the way to get my kid to school because that is what is most important now, even if they might not think so in the moment or later.
We do our best with what we have and what we know. Right?
Or do we?
When I look at what we have and what we know, and I examine the decisions I, our leaders and my peers are making in the moment, I wonder if any of us are even interested in doing our best to achieve our stated goals. It takes so much thought and effort! It takes dedication, focus, and resolve. And it makes ‘good enough for now’ so much more attractive.
Yet we say we want to give our best. And we know we don’t want others to provide us with anything less. So what are we to do?
Certainly, pressures abound for us to do all we can to do right by the world. The truth is, though, we can’t be everything to everyone. Something has to give. That’s where personal calculus comes to play. We each decide what goes into our equation. And our ability to choose is proof that we can be more or less than some or all of our other abilities combined.
But the thing of it is we can’t all be right.
The question then becomes: How do we tell right thought and action from wrong?