The power of decision

The power of decision

Time flies, and with it wit and humour go, zest and overzealousness are toned down, and all that is left is the husk of the once juicy nub of corn; the once bubbly baby is now a serious full grown man: made serious by life, rendered blasé by experience. Time flies, and with it wit and humour go, zest and overzealousness are toned down, and all that is left is the husk of the once juicy nub of corn; the once bubbly baby is now a serious full grown man: made serious by life, rendered blasé by experience.

The basic reality of growing old is reaching the point where one has to make decisions on what to do, how to do it, where to do it, when to do it; and all these are guided by the why to do whatever it is that has to be done to achieve a certain goal. All that is in this world (excepting the supernatural and the metaphysical that are still at this moment in time a little understood due to their mysterious nature) is the direct result of someone’s decision. The tall buildings that kiss the sky and hide their noses in the clouds came into existence out of necessity; that is, at a certain point human population explosion meant that those in land-deprived areas had to decide to go up because the lack of land meant that the only space available was in the construction of high rise buildings.

Existence itself is a daily decision, the decision to be what one wants to be, the decision to go on despite the hardships in the prevalent environment, the decision to change because the route one has followed for some while is proving futile.

The act of the moment and its impact have their origins in the decision made, and if it be a good or bad one, the reverberations thereof are felt in the course of time and history.When the poet, Dante Alighieri wrote Inferno which is part one of La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy), the pious of the day must have thought that he was writing about the experiences of the individual on a journey into hell (inferno), but a closer analysis of the poem soon reveals that it could well be a description of the events that lead the individual in dilemma into praxis, that is, he or she that was at a certain point unsure or was unaware of a certain weakness or problem reaches that moment when they are forced to make a choice on how best to deal with the prevailing circumstances to turn them in their favour.

Dante begins canto 1 with the words (which I find very musical in their original Italian and highly meaningful in English): Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, (When I had journeyed half of our life’s way,) Mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, (I found myself within a shadowed forest,) Ché la diritta via era smarrita. (For I had lost the path that does not stray.)

Life is a journey through time, and some travel far longer than others while some do not get to begin theirs but soon pass before they are born or moments just after they are born. The only thing that gets every individual is the decision to get up and be, and what that may be is not often clear at the beginning of the day but surely will be understood at the end of the day when one reflects in retrospect.

Regret follows bad decision just as surely as the right decision follows dilemma. The lines from the stanza (canto) above denote the most significant part in the process of decision-making: dilemma; that point in time in the life of the individual where one is not sure whether to turn right or to turn left, whether to go up or to go down, where one is puzzled on how they can go backwards or forwards.

Out of the feeling of being stuck in between a rock and a hard place comes the instinctive need to move or at least effect movement in any given direction, and this stems from the basic human instinct to move if one feels stuck or sees that something that is not part of progress is presenting itself as a block. The movement is triggered by the decision to see whatever it is that is blocking one’s path removed, changed, or renewed into something desirable and effective.

For the longest while, I have held the opinion that societies around the globe often do not understand the real meanings behind the poetry in the verses of their bards because the message is not presented well enough for them to understand its real contents. But I have come up with the conclusion that we often do not decide to understand, yes! We do not understand because we unconsciously or consciously repel any kind of knowledge that may at the end of the day salvage us out of the deep pools of complacency where we feel our peace is. What is lost, however, is the potential opportunity the decision we make has in its tow.

The decision to accept the prevailing as is or are stems from the fear to decide to do something about what is impeding one’s or the society’s progress. Dilemma often presents itself as a scary figure with the scintillating shades of an octopus, and it carries with it the mien of the venomous viper.

The individual that is scared of being the first to confront the fearful and the unknown is bound to remain stuck in the mires of indecision. Decision seeks determination for one to execute their wishes, for the fear that comes with the making of a decision shall surely impede the progress of the individual that is fearful when the moment arrives if they let it rule them.

It necessitates constant battles that require regular practice for one to reach a point where they can be deemed as ‘decisive’ and firm characters whose decisions benefit not only themselves but everyone that is around them. There are many spheres to the process of life, and all of them are determined by the decision made before they are explored to the full.

Dante’s poem ends with the simple scene of the protagonist following the leader, Virgil (the decision), to the place where lies the salvation of the soul (spirit), and this is real even in the life of everyone that chooses to set their being on that which they so decide to follow:Allor si mosse, e io li tenni dietro. (Then he set out, and I moved on behind him.)

It does not take much to follow a dream, to decide to keep on keeping on no matter the challenges that show up along the way on this journey of life. It is well and good to take a decision, but it is even better to take its alternative if the first decision taken proves to be an impediment. I can safely guess that those that fall into ruin end up so because they stick to the wrong decision, despite the obvious signs that it is not panning out as originally wished in the heart of its taker.

A friend of mine told me a few years ago in simple terms that if one’s original wish is that they want to go to Durban but then find themselves in Kimberly, the right decision is to turn back to their point of original departure and then to follow it up with the decision to follow the right path to the first destination (in this case Durban) they set out to reach.

The term ‘drawing board’ does not apply only to the draughtsman (or woman) but applies to all spheres of life where the execution of a plan requires the noting of all salient aspects before it is undertaken. It is beneficial for the decision maker to go back to the drawing board if the decision they first took does not prove effective in the reaching of the set goal.

Intention is the first aspect of decision-making to avoid falling into the trap those that choose complacency over action, those that end up in regret because they did not take the decision when they still had time. Dante presents a realm in Inferno and it is made up of those individuals that have chosen to reject spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites and violence.

This occurs when the intention in the individual is to pervert their human intellect in acts of fraud or malice against their fellow men. A pastor I know often referred to intention as the most basic and primal element in the judgment of a deed, and I guess he spoke of the legal concept of mens rea where intention counts above all else in the determination of the outcome of a case.

One’s decision should be based on good intentions, that is, one should not set out to be mendacious in their pursuit of happiness, one should not defraud others just so that they gain their joy. Such decisions are those that come back to haunt the owner as is evidenced by the events unfolding in the lives of a former president and his cronies.

Some are now fugitives and wear the mark of Cain because the intentions in the decisions they made were not hinged on what is right or just.      Commitment to the decision will get one to the goal envisioned, and whether it be done individually or communally, the reaching of a goal demands that the parties involved are committed to seeing it through.

Commitment means holding on through the thick and the thin, the hard and the simple; to weather the storms and the challenges that are sure to come as soon as one decides to follow their decision through to its revelation.

Diligence in the efforts to reach the goal means that the decision-maker should have constancy in character, that is, that they do not dilly-dally when circumstances demand one to be firm in the pursuit of the set goal. The captain of a ship at sea cannot afford to hesitate if his ship is facing perilous weather conditions, because the possibility of it reaching its destination is determined by the manner in which the captain makes salient decisions regarding the sailing of the ship in all conditions. The true mark of leadership stems from one being resolute in the execution of the decisions meant to aid in the attainment of the goal even if the environs change for whatever reason.

Fairness (to self and others) counts as a salient element in the pursuit of the goal after the decision has been made. One cannot afford to make unreasonable demands on others, and these are the demands that one knows that they cannot fulfil themselves if the situation were to be reversed. This means that the decision-maker should have enough discernment of the prevailing circumstances to determine the right decision to be used in the pursuit of the goal.

It does not help anyone if the people involved in the pursuit of the goal as predetermined by the decision are not aware of the realities surrounding the execution of their decision, for it then becomes hard for the flow of action to reach the goal envisioned. In the case of where the prevailing circumstances prove hard for the goal to be reached, the wise leader or decision-maker knows that humility is the best tool to use when it comes to the drawing of a new decision.

The wise one knows that even the simplest minds carry within their confines some of the most decisive plans of action; ignoring them on the basis of their simplicity is the downfall of many a good decision, for then what this simplicity is has proven to be the cement that holds the bricks that make up the plan together. One should never forget to acknowledge the simple aspects in life if they are to reach their goal.I have thought of this country for far too long, and I have realised that the one downfall has been in the lack of the acknowledgement of the simple folk. Often treated as mere statistics, what they know and understand is actually the marrow that is keeping this land on its rickety legs.

It lies with the ‘educated’ masses to begin to acknowledge everyone in the making of decisions because at the end of the day, such encompassing decisions stand to benefit the land and its populace. Half-baked decisions based on party and affiliation never got any land anywhere except into the arms of regression. Ask your surrounding neighbours what wrong decisions got them if you feel like arguing. Then decide.

Tsepiso S Mothibi

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