Fighting the Cause vs. Fighting the Effect

We are more likely to be successful when our efforts are concentrated on what we can control than what we cannot. Spending our time focussed on blaming the consequences instead of altering the cause of them is more apt to result in failure. Just watch a hockey player argue with a ref over a hooking call.

When you drink and drive, then crash your car, what do you do? Lobby the auto industry to create vehicles that are easier to drive while intoxicated? Write to your congressman about the poor road conditions for driving while intoxicated? Complain to the auto insurance company about unfair rate hikes?

But, drinking and driving is illegal, and few would argue against that. However, even if it weren’t illegal, the repercussions would still exist. You could crash your car and hurt/kill yourself. You could kill someone else. Simply speaking, actions, whether legal or illegal, have consequences.

A 21-year-old woman goes to a frat party, gets drunk, and passes out. She realizes in the morning that she has been raped, and doesn’t know who did it. It is not illegal to go to a frat party, get drunk and pass out, so unlike drunk driving, she didn’t do anything wrong. The person to blame is the one who did the assaulting. To prevent this incident in the future, what do we do? Demand that no one sexually assaults women anymore? Increase the penalty for rape? Require that parties involving alcohol, women and frat boys have a police presence? The woman has very little, if no control over the actions of others. She has complete control over her decision to go to the party and how much she drinks. Does this mean she is to blame for what happened to her? Was she ‘asking for it’? No. She doesn’t want to be raped no more than a drunk driver wants to crash into a tree and become paralyzed from the neck down. But either way, consequences win.

A frat boy attends a party. He drinks too much. He wakes in the morning and realizes that he had sex with a woman, who also drank too much. She is still passed out, so he leaves. The frat boy eventually finds out that he is HIV positive. Must’ve been that woman at the party. Who’s fault is it? The government, for not providing free contraception? Those bible thumpers for teaching him about abstinence? Or maybe it’s Ronald Reagan’s fault for how little he did to battle HIV/AIDS back in the 80s. I think you get the point.

I’m not saying there are no injustices. There are. There’s no error in judgment in a decision to go see a movie, only to get shot at. It’s worth the time to fight the good fight and to stick up for those who are being victimized, or to show some compassion and humanity every once in a while. Note the differences.

I write this because it’s becoming more apparent to me the distinction between those who live their life in such a way that gives them a huge advantage against dire consequences, and those who spend their time complaining about those consequences and demanding what they don’t necessarily deserve. While either side may provide valid points for the issues at hand, the odds of success are less likely without self-corrective action and compromise.