Mistakes were Made

Should we be punished for our mistakes?

This is a question that came up to me while thinking about a traffic accident. In the case of a traffic accident, there is a 100% chance that somebody is at fault. The laws of the road were written in such a way that, if everybody abode by them to the letter, there would be no accidents. What if both people are at fault?

Consider this situation. A man is driving 60 mph on a 40 mph-road. There is another man 100 feet down the road who wishes to make a left turn on to the road. He misjudges the timing and distance of the car that is hurtling toward him and pulls out onto the road. Both cars are demolished. Who is at fault?

The word “mistake” implies that whatever unfavorable result was the cause of an oversight, misjudgement, or some otherwise inevitable or unstoppable force that caused us to make that mistake. Knowingly committing a fault is not a mistake. But since the man who tried to make the turn is the one who made the mistake, he is technically the one at fault, right?

Well, sort of. They’re both at fault, but our instinct tells us that the man who was speeding is the one who needs to be punished, and not the man who pulled out. Truthfully, they body need to be punished.

How can we learn from our mistakes if we aren’t punished by their results? There are many situations where people make mistakes and don’t learn from them because they don’t feel the fire that would have burned them. The people who choose to make bad decisions are likely to be those who haven’t learned from their mistakes.

Mistakes are inevitable. It’s a fact of life. But in many cases, a few more moments of observation or thought can save you from making that mistake.

Make mistakes. Unless they are avoidable.


Addendum: my blog turned five years old a week ago! Happy birthday, blog. I’ll be taking it to kindergarten this year. In all honestly, I’m surprised I’ve been keeping up with this thing. Thanks to everybody who’s stopped by.

Circular Lines

There’s a hotly-debated question that goes something along the lines of, “is life circular or linear?” Discussion of this question will always lead back to the arguer’s outlook on life which may or may not been influenced by their religious background and/our upbringing (I’m speaking specifically about the Hindi concept of reincarnation). There’s no definite answer to this question, because most of the time, when a person reaches the end of their life, they’re not around to be able to answer any questions about it.

Everything in life is cyclical. There’s the process where water in the ocean evaporates, turns into clouds, dumps on the mountains and then flows back to the ocean. There’s even the life cycle, where a child is born, grows up and has a child, which then grows up. Et cetera.

The human body goes through a daily process of doing the same thing; you eat three square meals a day, drink plenty of water, and the process will continue. Some people have a monthly cycle.

We humans make schedules so that we repeat the same things every week, sometimes every day, and because our bodies are on this cycle, we have simply found it more convenient to plan our time out likewise. We’ve even built our societies around this notion. We’ve created places where we can go every day to repeat the same mundane tasks. It’s called “work.”

But a life itself isn’t cyclical. In fact, a life is very much linear–there’s a definite start and there will be a definite end. No part of growing up will repeat itself. You simply grow old and die. However, the cyclical nature of life is what drives us to continue to the end of our lives with much more growth than we would have. The set schedules of eating, working and learning helps us to refine a process where the end goal is to be the best person you can be.

I suppose the same thing could be said about history–history won’t repeat itself because of its accelerated speed. A speed which is continually pushed by technology and the people who are on the daily grind, striving to make the world a better place.

I wonder if it’s possible for life to move so fast that it collapses on itself.

That would be a sight.

Gray Matter

Happy new year, first of all.

There’s a little problem I want to address…. well, it’s not a problem. Well, it is. Er… you’ll see.

We humans are a very peculiar race. We raise our kids not only with the intention of teaching them how to survive, but also to thrive. This thriving consists of using tools to our advantage, but it also includes the manipulation of other people, objects and occasions based on the circumstances at hand. We call them “morals.”

Growing up, we’re taught very strictly that there are things that we can do and others that we verily should not. Of course, when we reach a certain age, we understand why our parents forbade us from doing certain things and that there are certain occasions when doing those things are okay. But when we’re told we can’t do something, it comes with the question of “why?” (maybe not at an early age, but I believe it begins to surface at around age five). And to these questions, there’s perhaps one easy answer: “because it’s wrong.”

But not everything we do is wrong. And not everything we do is right. Weren’t there times when we’d just pass homeless people begging at the side of the freeway exit and our parents would tell us not to pay them any heed? Wasn’t that wrong?

No. In fact, nothing is ever completely wrong and nothing is ever completely right. Even that statement was neither completely right nor wrong. The truth is, we don’t live in a world of black and white. We live in a world that’s fifty shades of…. yeah. You get the picture.

All throughout elementary and middle school, we’re inundated with the message that things in history were “right” and “wrong.” Historical figures, events, and people are all generalized into these categories and anyone who is in neither extreme is simply left out or mentioned very briefly.

It wasn’t until high school that I began to notice these patterns. We were assigned novels in English class that showed me both sides of an argument–and eventually allowed me to be able to be reasonable. I know this fact makes me sound trite, but when you’re in grade school all your life, you’re extremely ignorant (but that’s a different post for another time). When you’re growing up, you’re in a position where all your decisions are made for you, whether you notice or not. Your choices hardly carry any weight, if any at all. It’s not completely necessary for you to be able to see both sides of an argument as objectively as possible.

As we grow up, we’ll be faced with more and more of these “gray” choices. There’s no good way to practice, either, with the exception of a few movies and games. Just know that if you have to make a choice, there’s a very high chance that there is another side to the situation that you cannot see, cannot understand and therefore cannot sympathize with. This other choice will have pros and cons that you will never know. It’s a crazy world, and you just gotta take it as it comes.

Enjoy your gray life.