Saturday, February 17, 2007

A perspective with the power to change the world

It was a simple act completed countless times before. Staring at the breakfast tray resting on my knees delivered to the room moments earlier, none of the items surveyed were either unfamiliar or would give the average person grounds to pause for thought. Coffee carafe, side of milk, glass of orange juice, fruit plate. It was the danish pastry that caused the melee. It looked enticing, the jam center glistening, the pastry flaky but heavily laden with butter or shortening. But in that moment it was clear that this dessert represented an interaction of unequal proportion. While the effort involved in consuming it was negligible, the effort required to deplete the calories it had added was considerable.

Pulling back the curtain as the sun broke a distant horizon, this humble pastry was looked at in a different light. Contemplating the time, exertion and sweat on a stair master to eradicate the efforts of this consumptive act rendered the pastry no longer appetizing.

The epiphany: what if mankind could be confronted with the knowledge of the consequences of every act before the action that would precipitate it. It surely would have a dramatic effect not on intensions but on desire for follow-through. A person falling on trash thrown from a car window, the senseless violence acted out by child after being scolded too harshly by a parent, the deep angst felt by a woman cheated upon at the hands of a female co-worker.

It is the separation of an act from its consequences that prevents it from being a behavioral modifier. It becomes too easy for the protagonist to rationalize away the notion of harm or the personal responsibility for it.

If only it were as simple as connecting the consequence to an act before it is enacted. For every person and every act. We’d end up with a better world or a society of psychopaths.

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