This might sound as an awfully dumb statement, and perhaps weird too, but it is sadly true. How often is it really that we realize that our mistakes would have been impeded, that we would made a wiser decision or simply that, in a given moment we would be 'better off' had we known what we really wanted at a crucial point? Job, interpersonal relationships, parenthood: you name it.
Of course this is not to say that people act irresponsibly, fortunately. And this is why most of the people, in such crucial decisions as marriage or children decide wisely. However, the (increasing) rate of divorces, abortions and general level of discontent among people allow for a further discussion of the matter. At the same time, there is a whole other category, of the not-so-important pivotal moments that we all face in our daily lives and we do mess up, fortunately with significantly less cost.
Is that people care less about themselves? This I cannot accept as an answer, particularly in today's world where examples of selfish behavior abound. Is that people are not able to make wise decisions? Continuously increasing levels of education in (virtually) all countries of the world seem to suggest the opposite. In addition, people are acquiring versatile experiences, which in theory make them stronger and wiser. Is that decisions become harder by the day because of the sheer amount of options? This is partly true, but would someone relinquish the amount of options just to make the decision-making process easier?
My take on the issue is quite straightforward. A significant amount of 'mistakes' or 'wrong choices' result as a consequence of the individual's inability to appropriately reconcile the given situation and his personal needs/desire, with an emphasis on the latter. The akward position of not being able to decide (or to deide badly) that we often find ourselves originates in an inability to order/rank our needs/desires.
I am not suggesting that our parents' (and grandfathers') generation were all 'too right' or for the matter 'too wise', but they had two considerable advantages over us. First, they had a hierarchy system imposed on them. Be it a religion, a society code, a 'faux-pas' system, a savoir-vivre, previous generations were much more constrained than us when it came to decision-making. Second, the amount of options presented to them and the influences exerted (of whatever nature) upon them were also far less than what people today in modern societies face.
Of course I do not blame modernity and the options that we have, neither of course do I suggest that we should go back to the old times. What I am thinking instead is how wiser it would be if our education, the way we raise our children and nurture our own selves was based more on building a sound relationship of the individual with one's own self. Spiritually or secularly, through reading or exercising, alone or in company: there are very many ways. Unless one selects the path of simply 'not caring' about himself or is in good terms with fortune, knowing one's true needs and desires is crucial in avoiding pitfalls, solving dilemmmas and ultimately improving the quality of life.
Sunday, September 10, 2006