Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mr. O And The Course of History

When I was in high school, the school's rather legendary history teacher took the opportunity at the start of each year to show students the episode of Star Trek in which Kirk has to make a choice that will help in the short term, but completely change the course of history in the long term. Mr. O's point was that even the smallest of details could change the small and large parts of history completely. Each event could affect the next, thereby setting in motion events for years to come. It was, to be sure, an important history lesson.

I think about Mr. O and his Star Trek episode quite often, and not just when I am chasing one crisis that leads me to chase another and another, until I am far from where I started or intended to be. I ponder them when I start thinking "what if I'd" or "oh, no, I should have," and when I start to worry that just one little adjustment would have made everything line up perfectly. Each choice we make makes a difference. But one change doesn't necessarily set up just what we wanted--often it sets up a completely different scenario, with pieces we hadn't even considered.

We change history with every choice we make. So, we can worry about each choice, and the events that will result from it, or we can do what we believe to be right right now, and accept the events we might set off. For, while it is important to realize that our small actions will change the course of history, we can't always know how they will do so, and in how many steps.

But, thanks to Mr. O, I have a bit of Star Trek at my heels, a reminder that my actions are a part of history, but not the only reason things turn out as they do. And as I did back then, I simply try to do my best in the class--and in life...

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