Musings from the Gilly Pad

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Just Because You Can, Doesn't Mean You Should

"There is no being less rational than that which is human."  - Leigh L. Gilliland, life-long human

The battle is an ancient battle fought by our species since the beginning of time.  Decisions made by us (the human species) have shaped our world's history and continuously shape our future.  Usually it's several individuals, communities, cities, etc. that will either suffer or benefit from the decision of one individual.  So what I'm saying is this: An individual's decision doesn't always stop at that individual.  There is a constant battle that we humans face every single day, all throughout the day.  We have the freedom and capability to be completely rational, but so often we're not.  I'm ashamed to admit, some of my most irrational decisions have been made quite willfully.

Have mercy me, will you?  I'm no philosopher; I just find people fascinating, and this thought occurred to me while my husband and I were discussing decisions people make....very public and visible decisions...that seem to be void of any forethought.  When choices are made, do we only consider what is best for ourselves?  Do we contemplate those around us and consider the consequences of how our choices could shape or alter the lives of others?  When we act "in our best interest", are we in denial that our best interest just may be an impulsive, momentary desire and not in our best interest at all because it's not in the best interest of others?  Do we intentionally take on a posture of humility and honesty to examine our motives and its consequences?   

Just because something is permissible, does not make it beneficial.  Just because something is good, does not mean that it is right.  Just because something is beautiful, does not mean that it is to be had.  Just because something is lawful, does not mean that it is not hurtful.  Just because something is lawful, does not mean it is not evil.  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. 

So how can we go forward and try to make more rational decisions?  I think most of the time we must look outside of ourselves and objectively, honestly ask:  What does this look like 5 years from now?  What are the ripple effects?  Is this beneficial primarily to me or to others, as well?  Am I considering the well-being of others?  What is the motivation my heart?  Just because I can, does it mean that I should?


On a related, unrelated topic:
Those who know me know I'm passionate about the preservation of historical property.  Midtown Memphis is losing the historical Union Avenue Methodist Church to CVS pharmacy.  I'm not so irrational that I think the people who agreed to sell this building are evil.  I don't even think that the members of our City Council who, although acting against our Land Use Control Board,  allowed its demolition are evil....uneducated, uninformed, and unconcerned...possibly.  However, I feel strongly that although it was quite permissible and quite lawful, it was not beneficial for our little community who fought so hard for its restoration.  I realize that decisions made here will benefit a few, and that the decision was in opposition to what I selfishly wanted for my community.  I know that my opinion is tainted with my own stuff, is what I'm saying.  I just believe to the depths of my core being that this will be more of a corporate benefit rather than my local community's benefit.  I can't hold a grudge, and my heart will need to forgive those who I think acted in poor judgement.  Life goes on, and I choose to live in this great city, albeit its flaws.  Memphis is worth it!
Union Avenue United Methodist Church in Memphis, TN  
future corner of Cooper and Union
A great big THANK YOU to June West and all the efforts of Memphis Heritage for fighting for the preservation of this beautiful, architectural gem.  The folks in Midtown Memphis are proud of our historical and cultural uniqueness within the city of Memphis, and we tried.  Thanks for allowing me to say to my peace.  Peace be with you all.

Potential buyers from a local church tour interior of Union Ave. Methodist Church