Unintended consequences:
When somebody takes action that has some bad consequences, it is common to assume that the consequences were intended by the person taking the action.  (The Side-Effect Effect, GJC SCIENCE vol. 328 no. 5985 June 18, 2010 page 1457 reviewing an article in Cognition 116, 87 (2010))  If that were not bad enough, it also appears that if the action was against the norm the judgment is harsher. 

Now there is something to reflect on.  Presently the bulk of humanity is engaged in a random mating strategy in disastrously large social pools.  The result is severe and increasing infertility.  We may not survive.  I am less pessimistic than I once was on the issue.  Still there is danger.

If we do survive, it will be because the norm changes.  People will have to adopt a rational mating strategy.  When that day comes, what we think now will not be the norm.  What will they think of us?  Human sacrifice was once fairly common.  The Bible mentions it.  Indeed there is a passage that was pointed out to me once that calls for it.  But we regard it as so terrible we hardly wish to think about it.  Will they so regard us? 

I have a friend who was once teaching in the Midwest.  One of the students raised the question, “Why are we studying these ancient Greeks?  Why do they matter?  They believed in all the gods and goddesses, and it was obviously superstition.  How can we respect anything else they thought?”

My friend replied, “What would you have them believe in?”

“Jesus Christ, like everybody else.”

“Well for one thing, he wouldn’t be born for another four hundred years.”

The students were thunderstruck.  Of course for a good Trinitarian that is no excuse.  Christ existed from the beginning, being of one substance with God.  But for Protestants like these Jesus, like most of us, existed only as a plan until the moment of conception.  There was no Christ to believe in. 

But their problem was worse.  They had grown up in the television world in which reality flashes to reality instantaneously.  One moment you are watching a western.  The next moment it’s pirates.  Costumes change.  Manners change.  Technology changes.  It is all instantaneous.  The notion that history proceeds mostly by imperceptible degrees and has an internal logic such that some things cannot precede others, this was quite foreign to them. 

So tremble for your reputation.  You will get little sympathy from the survivors. 

What’s more, you can run the logic the other way.  At the moment it is I who am most vigorously pushing against the norm.  Failure would only mean the loss of the use of one potentially valuable life.  Success would be complicated.

In particular, if the norm changes there will certainly be bad things as well as good things that come from it: grief, rage and fear.

People could panic.  I doubt that happens.  People don’t panic.  Governments panic.  Governments have the means to turn their panic into foolish action.  People have little opportunity to do anything but go about business.

People could get upset with the leaders who have taken them down this corridor of horror.  And when the regime changes, truly changes, things can get really nasty.  History is full of such things.  Russia has been enormously lucky to escape worse problems with the fall of communism.  Worry about North Korea.

The thing I fear most is grief.  What will happen when people look around and realize what they have been doing?  All I can do, all I shall ever be able to do is scream, “It’s not your fault.”  But it is certainly somebody’s fault, and a lot of people will shoulder a lot of sense of guilt.  That I fear greatly. 

And who will be to blame?  Well since I will have been the one who took action against the norm, and since evil resulted, I expect I shall not be looked upon kindly by a lot of people. 

Unfortunately I cannot run away.  There is just too much at stake.

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