Monday, May 2, 2011

If You Are Having to Make a Decision, Play It Smart or Be Wise?

This week we had a report of a very smart man during those terrible tornadoes that devastated whole southern cities. He leaped into his bathtub with both his dogs. Fortunately, they were on a leash. The suction almost pulled them away but he clung on. Nothing else remained of the house but ruins. Smart.

My wife’s father apparently was such a man. He was in Kobe during the Japanese earthquake of 1923. He jumped into a doorway, pinned there, but the only survivor on that street. Smart, but you would expect that of a U boat commander who survived the war.

In the southern mountain country when a boy goes off from home, his mother is apt to wave to him and shout, “Act smart!” Not bad advice. What survivor entitled to be named a “post-traumatic stress” victim does not continue to have to make decisions. How do you do that?

There is a lot of inner urgings to say, “play it smart.” There are phrases urging that: having “street smarts,” or the “smart money” people are saying… I don’t know about you, but when I hear such phrases I am inclined to remember the English saying, “Too smart by half.”

What it comes down to, to get to the point, is just how you and I make our decisions.

Remember that joke, “I thought I could drown my troubles, but I found out they could swim faster than I could pour?” 

The Iroquois are reputed to have had an interesting methodology for reaching a decision. Ordinarily, one of two chiefs did this: there was one for peace and one for war, since different skills were required in decision making. If no decision was easily reached, a council of elders – all men, of course – was called. Lacking a consensus, all the braves – male warriors – were brought into the discussion. If that did not do it, all the oldest women in the tribe were consulted! If nothing worked, then the final criteria was invoked: what was the effect of the decision on the tribe five generations from then? 

The problem with making decisions, particularly if you are struggling with having outlasted a traumatic event, is that the trauma doesn’t go away and – by definition – you are self absorbed all too much of the time, locked into just one event that seemingly is not going to go away. We have to find better ways to think about things – and there are. 

The reason I brought the Apostle Paul’s name into the title of this blog is that he had to work his way out of just that problem. He did it, and studying how is very much worth both our time.

No comments:

Post a Comment