Whiting column: Consider the possibility of permanence
The phrase “possibility of permanence” is interesting and bears consideration.
Whether it be decision-making, potential actions or possible solutions, we often don’t realize the possibility of permanence carries with it significant ramifications and consequences.
The nature of our actions with this possibility increases as we age. When parents changed our diapers, they probably felt the odor possessed this possibility. The social disasters and other negative interactions of middle school may have seemed all-encompassing, but time proved they weren’t permanent.
As we grew older, classroom efforts proved more significant. Ignorance has the possibility of permanence. I’m reminded of the high school senior in Washington on the Social Studies trip. During the White House tour, the President’s wife walked by and stopped. The student asked, ”Are you the First Lady? “Yes I am,” she replied. “Wow, what was it like to see dinosaurs?”
Careers generated another step up the possibility of permanence ladder. Without skills, demonstrated work ethic and ability to win an interview, we learned unemployment might be permanent. At the very least, we would start several rungs down the ladder from what we envisioned.
Complementary careers became a consideration. The ski and bike shop; fishing guide and ski patrol; veterinarian and taxidermist. The customer got their dog back either way.
Education and work experience can’t be taken from us. It’s permanent. We have to make sure it’s good and meets our needs.
Dating has a logical progression. The first date is similar to a baseball at bat. It might result in a base on balls, strike out or hit, but nothing catastrophic. Dates #2, 3 and more, begin to possess a possibility of permanence.
Consequences become an issue, especially if intimacy enters the picture. Emotional, let alone physical, intimacy creates a higher level of responsibility and the possibility of permanence; desired or not.
That’s the purpose of the dating process. We are letting time test the waters, determine compatibility, assess values as we experience their heart beyond the initial attraction. It helps us make the right decision as we consider the possibility of permanence.
Elections possess the possibility of permanence. It’s difficult to defeat an incumbent and some hold office for decades. It might be desirable to change the process to provide a “dating” period; to facilitate determining a politician’s true nature.
Too often, the candidate says one thing to get elected and does another in office. They express concern about us in the short term, but change to their or their party’s agenda. As in dating, we could call off the “engagement” after six months or a year; before becoming permanent. We can only hope.
Similarly, we need to consider the need to adopt more and more laws each year. Legislation possesses the possibility of permanence, since it’s easier to pass legislation than repeal it, regardless of its effectiveness. In 2018 Congress passed 441 new laws; Colorado introduced 700 bills. It’s unlikely our country changed enough in one year to warrant such.
A legislator’s effectiveness should not be measured by the number of bills introduced or executive actions taken. Rather, whether they emphasize their constituency or their ego.
We needn’t worry about the possibility of permanence when it comes to party politics. Both change their opinions as it suits their needs. JFK asked “what we can do for our country,” Bernie Sanders asks, “what can the country give you.”
Both parties supported and condemned the Vietnam war, depending who was president. One can find numerous Democratic and Republican flip flops on any issue, whether it be taxation, immigration, national defense or others.
Of course, permanence isn’t all bad. I recently attended my fraternity 50 year reunion. I asked one of my “brothers” if he was married. “Yes, 40 years” he replied, “10 years each time.”
Permanence can be a valued achievement or a source of confusion. Two 10-year-old boys were at a wedding. “How many wives can you have?” asked one. “16” responded the other, “four better ones, four worse ones, four rich ones, four poor ones, and you can’t ask if they’re sick or healthy.”
The arrival of the internet and social media reinforces the need to understand the possibility of permanence. Once on the internet, it’s there forever; like it or not. The impact on college admission, career employment and relationships is significant.
As life progresses, we learn to think about others in regard to our words and actions, because their effects have a possibility of permanence. We can take a piece of paper and crumple it up any way we want. We can spread it out, flatten it, trying to return it to its original shape, but the lines and creases will still be there. They won’t go away.
Sometimes we need to step back, take a breath and think before we act. We don’t want to do something permanently stupid, because we are temporarily upset now.
On the other hand, the possibility of permanence should encourage us to act now. We shouldn’t wait to say something to someone we care about, take steps toward a goal or move on an issue of importance because our presence, in this world at least, isn’t permanent. We may not have control of the time when overt action isn’t an option.
It is ours and our country’s personal responsibility to consider the possibility of permanence as we make choices and take action.
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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