Todd Weber's Random Thoughts

May 10, 2010

Consequences Unforseen

Filed under: Biblical/spiritual — Tags: , , , , , , , , — tkweber @ 8:52 am

“When the perceptive Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, visited the United States five years after Jefferson’s death, he discovered a society that had sought ‘to evade the bondage of system and habit, of family maxims, class-opinion, and, in some degree of national prejudices.’ Tocqueville described for his readers how in Europe aristocracy bound all members of a community to one another, while New World democracy had severed every link in that chain. In America, Tocqueville noted, the individual stands alone without hereditary allies or neighborhood support. Personal freedom and economic opportunity – that was the gist of Jefferson’s ideas and convictions. He did not fully understand what he had wrought, nor was he entirely comfortable with the result. It was his legacy nonetheless.” (Norman K. Risjord, Thomas Jefferson, Madison House, 1994, p. 195-196)

 Tocqueville’s observation highlights the fact that ideas and actions, no matter how well-conceived and well-intentioned, always have consequences unforeseen or anticipated by their proponents. In the case of social and political structure, we Americans have basked in the liberty, security and prosperity of our Constitutional Republic free of the limitations and inequities of Old World structures and traditions. At the same time, however, we mourn the weakness of our social fabric and yearn for many of the elements left behind, such as a strong sense of community with extended family and neighbors, a sense of identity and belonging to history and heritage, the warmth and security of cultural and family traditions, and so on. Still, we cannot forget the causes and motivations behind the genesis of America. Thousands of years of Old World systems gave rise to tyranny, oppression and suffering from which our forefathers fled to create the New World in which we now live, with blessings and curses all its own.

 This is true in the context of faith and religion, as well. New generations wrestle with the structures and traditions handed down to them and search for new ways more meaningful and satisfying than what they have known. Sincere idealism drives the quest for truth which often results in the modification, and sometimes rejection, of beliefs and practices long held by predecessors, but now deemed irrelevant, unprofitable or undesirable. However, there are always unintended, unforeseen consequences, good and bad. There is no way to avoid this.

 Everything comes at a price and even the best-laid plans have unintended consequences. We are fallen beings in a fallen world. No one is perfect; therefore, it is impossible for us to create anything that is perfect. Everything we build, devise or operate will eventually break down and fail. Even the Church, the body of Christ, which is not our creation but God’s, is subject to corruption, misuse and failure (limited and temporary) because it is in the care of humans.

 The point is that knowing our plans and schemes will result in effects we cannot possibly anticipate should not keep us from continually striving to create better circumstances for ourselves and posterity. Regardless of context, the price of timidity is often mediocrity and stagnation. It can be hoped and trusted that whatever negative or undesirable effects of our decisions and actions today will be corrected by brave and energetic occupants of tomorrow. This does not suggest license to be careless or cavalier, but rather an antidote to fear and inaction. We must do the best we can with what we have, carefully considering past and present circumstances as well as potential future ramifications.

 God lives and moves in every generation of man and desires the best of circumstances for those made in his image. Proof of this is the environment first created for man’s habitation. Corruption and depravity resulted from man’s sin, not God’s will. As seen in the history of the Israelites, wherever God’s will is upheld and maintained in full accord, the peace and prosperity of man follows, limited only by the weaknesses of man himself. Therefore, it seems our duty to continually seek to improve our state, right our wrongs, and rise again from the ashes of failure to which all human endeavors seem ultimately destined.

 © Todd K. Weber 05/10/2010


Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: