My friend form high school, Dennis Rainey, and I were chatting by phone the other night, as we do almost every weekend. We were discussing a local matter where a group made a decision, and a bunch of members decided to leave the group due to the decision.
"Choices have consequences," Dennis said flatly. He may not be the first person to say it, but he's the first person I've heard say it. It turned out to set the tone for my week. I've used it nearly half a dozen times to explain the fall-out that have either come from decisions, or could come from decisions, most of them related to agriculture or ag-related groups.
You still have lots of freedom to choose in this country. That includes choosing the people you hang around with, the groups you belong to, the decisions you make about farming and how you raise your kids. Every choice you make has consequences. Some of them are intended – you hope you're making a decision that gives you something you want, or helps you reach a goal. But sometimes there are unintended consequences. Those are the ones Dennis was referring too. How badly do you want something if your choice risks putting someone else in a bad spot, or adversely affects another group?
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Here are two examples where I have tried to sound wise by inserting "choices have consequences" into the discussion.
One. Cheating at the state fair – Word is out that evidence of drugs banned for the species were found when carcasses of high-placing animals were evaluated again this year. You can cheat and chase the purple felt if you like, and many do and win, and believe there is little fall-out from doing what it takes to win.
In reality, they're putting a black mark against the Indiana State Fair and 4-H in general. All the inspection programs and rules in the world won't stop someone who really wants to win and is willing to abuse an animal or administer an illegal drug if they think it gives them an edge. The cheating will only stop when the people doing it realize there are more important things in life than purple banners and bragging rights. Choices have consequences.
Two. I coach a soils judging team on a voluntary basis. It takes a majority of my free time in August, September and early October. I love soils and the people I meet, but it is also my chance to contribute to teaching youth responsibility. Sometimes that lesson doesn't always turn out the way I want it to turn out.
This week a senior who has judged three years, with the capability to compete for a trip to Oklahoma yet this fall, met with me. She said she just couldn't do soils any more. Faced with a number of practices and contests to attend to qualify to go, she said she just couldn't do it. She needed to work on grades and other concerns.
I don't know everything going on in her life, and I know she faces issues teenagers face. I also know she just gave up a chance for personal satisfaction, to see if she could be as good as I think she could be, and she let down he teammates counting on her, besides what she might have learned about soils. Choices have consequences.