Monday, November 13, 2006

Ripples in the Pond

Every time you make a choice, you change the future. The future, not your future. Our interconnectedness, while more apparent sometimes than others, leads us to experience the consequences of each other's actions more often than not.

There are times when our lives would be much simpler if we were able to isolate ourselves in order to make an important decision. Unfortunately, however, it is a condition of life that we are dependent on external forces for our survival and are unable to live inside a vacuum. Regardless of whether we can anticipate the exact changes that will come about as the result of a choice we make, the changes will occur. Occasionally, the effects are so far-reaching that their true measure cannot be assessed for months or years later.

Thirty years ago, our country went to war in Vietnam. During the height of the fighting, a decision was made to deforest the jungle in order for our military to have better strategic vision of the "enemy". The long-term effect of this action on the environment and the innocent civilians who inhabited Vietnam was not taken into account. The decision was made in order to "win" this war decisively.

Not only has the environment not recovered from the thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals that were rained down upon it, but the people of Vietnam have suffered countless medical anomalies and genetic defects generations later. They have attempted to farm the poisoned soil and fish from the tainted rivers and lakes so that their children may eat. Instead, they are contracting cancers and giving birth to babies with no eyes and enlarged heads. We neglected to acknowledge that the citizens of Vietnam were our fellow human beings, even when their leaders made decisions we did not agree with. Poisoning their food supply may have enabled democracy to rise victorious over communism in that small corner of the planet, but it also has disabled generations of innocent human beings and animals from thriving in their own land.

The United States went to war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction". Saddam Hussein has been found guilty of using or attempting to use biological warfare, but America has yet to apologize or pay any kind of reparations to Vietnam for succeeding in doing the same thirty years ago. Agent Orange was most definitely both a WMD and a biological weapon and its effects have been more devastating than anyone could have foreseen.

Most of the decisions I've made when I am angry or judgemental of another person have turned out to be the ones I most regret later. As we begin to remind ourselves of the power we have to affect others, perhaps we can begin to respect it more and examine our own motivations for making the choices we make.

A group called "Vets With A Mission" devotes itself to repairing some of the damage done by the military in other parts of the world. If you wish to make a donation or see the work they have done, visit


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Wow! Thanks for this thought-provoking piece! How depressing! How important that we LEARN our lessons, before repeating the same mistakes!

Jenny Rough said...

People, myself included, certainly don't think about the consequences of their actions enough. Thanks for this thought-provoking post.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow, Kari,

Great food for thought. Thank you.

Miss Devylish said...

It's so sad really.. I hope we all become smarter about the damage that can be caused before we cause it..

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