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Local View: Be aware: Choices have consequences

How often do us modern folk think about consequences? Surely not often enough. We blindly plow (perhaps "stumble" is a better word) ahead, pursuing whatever whims come to the forefront. Seldom are we cognizant of other options or alternatives that might be available. Frequently it is the path of least resistance that we follow. Other times, crazy notions.

Tom WheelerSome of us are born risk-averse. Others (particularly teenagers) appear fearless, taking on virtually any challenge. Do we truly understand risky behaviors, like having unprotected sex, doing drugs, or drinking alcohol? Are we aware of consequences?

The definition of consequences is: results or effects from an action or condition.

Robert Ingersoll, an American lawyer during the late 1800s and an oft-quoted source of wisdom, once said: "In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences."

If the wildebeest is not careful, he becomes the lion's lunch. If we humans proceed with similar dismissiveness of nature, tragedies can and do occur. Unfortunately, even caution does not bring a total guarantee of safety, but it does improve the odds.

Life is about choices; choices lead to consequences. As stated, teenagers are particularly susceptible to risk-taking. As parents we need to hold the mirror up, pointing out how nature works.

There are indeed consequences awaiting various behaviors. Our brains have evolved various coping skills. Be cognizant of the joys and perils of adrenaline.

Life is about balance — quite a challenge. It is a delicate balance. I think about my own past experiences. I can still hear my father saying, "Son, there are some things I don't need to know, but you need to be aware of risky behaviors." Until I became a parent (of six), I didn't fully understand. I do now. Parents, make your children aware that choices have consequences.

There also are the all-too-familiar "unintended consequences." We hear about them, observe them, or experience them, especially after political or business decisions. Not all consequences are necessarily self-inflicted.

Inaction, or making no decision, also carries consequences. Life is indeed uncertain. Things happen. Values — responsibility, ethics, kindness, courtesy, and discipline among them — remain our best protective devices and our tools to survive life's challenges.

Don't forget to learn to love, the most powerful of all human survival skills. True love never dies.

Tom Wheeler was a longtime Duluth-area businessman, civic leader, and philanthropist. Retired, he splits his time between Duluth and Tucson, Ariz., and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.