Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans

Best Laid Plans

Dr. Steve Mason
“We make some of our greatest gains when we see old things in new ways.”

Contact Dr. Mason by email at

The Best Laid Plans

Do you remember when China started its one-child policy? That was 35 years ago in 1979 and it worked well until it didn’t work well. At first, it eased a perennial problem – too many people – and China was finally able to take its place as a world power. But then, as the work force aged and diminished, a second consequence became obvious. Because parents favored male offspring, the typical 50/50 gender ratio was thrown off. This condemned almost 35 million Chinese men to lives without Chinese women…a potentially explosive situation today.

This is why you have to be careful about that for which you ask. You might just get it! And that’s the way it is with unforeseen consequences. I’m taking a Current Issues in Government class where I’m always astonished by the way some students will purport the tell the President how he should handle pending crises. Just do it this way and no more threat. What they don’t seem to realize is that planning Shock an Awe is a piece of cake compared to planning what comes next.

And what’s truly unfortunate is that people keen on saving the world often neglect events closer to home. Life is, in fact, a never ending series of choices. Think of it as a series of Y’s in the road. Every time you go left instead of right, everything down that path will be different. What’s more, you won’t be able to go back to the way things were. Consider the fellow who completed two degrees in mathematics. So far so good, then he decided to get a PhD in physics. Six years later, he was renting a basement room, he was almost $100 thousand in debt and he was no closer to either the degree or a job. He took a wrong turn and made it worse with wishful thinking. He had so much invested, how could he have possibly quit after just the first year?

A far less drastic example involved a fellow who decided on a family camping trip. What could possibly go wrong? Being a typical male, he saw the end result; fishing in a babbling brook and preparing his catch over an open fire. His wife, being a female, saw all the in-between. Packing gear, buying food, dealing with the crowds at the brook and, oh yes, remembering to buy a fishing license.

One thing does indeed lead to another. It is hard to believe but, in looking back over every generation, if a specific male didn’t find ‘and’ mate with a specific female – producing a specific child – you wouldn’t be reading this. If just one of your ancestors had gotten stepped on by a mammoth, you would never have come into being.

Look At It This Way

But wouldn’t it be nice to go back in time and replace all your bad decisions with their alternatives. Suppose you’d married A instead of B, stayed home that New Years’ Eve, taken the job in Australia and not trusted those ‘so and so’ commodity brokers. Then again, if you had changed just one of those decisions, how do you know where you’d be today? So if you’re still alive and reasonably happy with life, embrace every one of your failures. They’re what got you here today.

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