When I was young I hated that word, “consequences”. I hated it because it was not used properly. It was used to tell me, as a child, that I would be punished. In young adulthood it was used by lovers and wives to manipulate me into doing what THEY wanted me to do instead of doing what I really preferred to do. It became a loaded word for me.
Later on, however, I found that there is an entire concept within this word that has NOTHING to do with punishment or manipulation. It has to do more with laws of cause and effect. I think that this cause and effect thing is what makes so many people paralysed when it comes to making a decision in their lives. Often people live their lives in fear of what the consequences will be should they decide to move in any given direction other than the path upon which they currently find themselves.
But the thing is…there are ALWAYS effects for EVERY decision we make…and those are consequences. It doesn’t matter if the decision is a “good” decision or a “bad” decision…there are still going to be consequences…effects the likes of which we could not possibly predict, and only some of which we can. And not making a decision to do something is actually a decision in and of itself…which has consequences. Non-action is actually an action.
Pacifists would say that in deciding to not take action (in this case equated with aggression) they are maintaining a peaceful stance and therefore radiating peace. I would have to disagree with this concept. For one thing, taking action is not necessarily an act of aggression. It can be an act of assertive declaration of healthy boundaries. Secondly, to stand by and simply watch or walk away when there is violence happening is to enable that violence to continue. So one really is not doing anyone any favours there. I remember someone once saying to me, “The proud man speaks; the wise man watches.” To some degree I do agree with this, but only to a certain point. People often speak too much and listen only to respond instead of to hear. This is definitely ego in action. And wise people do indeed watch what is going on around them, but when what is happening is negative, toxic, dangerous, or unhealthy a wise person will be the first to stand up and speak. To not do so has dire consequences for everyone.
Every action or non-action has an effect. What that effect will be is determined by the choices we make. Staying silent when something is wrong robs ourselves and others of dignity and the opportunity to make something right. To blast through without proper care or protocol can create disruption that will leave others feeling violated and carrying the opinion that one is ignorant and crass.
I remember feeling that about a person during a medicine wheel ceremony when the person walked ACROSS the medicine wheel. Not cool. I knew that she was ignorant of what she had just done, but could not let it go in case she should do it again. So I gently explained to her that the medicine wheel is a sacred device and that walking across it is more disruptive and disrespectful than walking across someone’s grave. She was incredibly apologetic and mortified that she had just done that. I would not leave her in that feeling, so on the spot I devised a small and quick ritual for her to do that would rectify the situation energetically. Everyone in attendance was very proud of her for making it right once again, and all could feel the difference in the energy field…just as much as they could when she first walked across the medicine wheel. For me it is important to be gentle yet firm in what is expected at any given time, especially when working with the sacred. This was a healing and a learning opportunity. When all was said and done there were no judgements regarding her actions but lots of relief that they could be righted. Without those actions the vortex energy of the medicine wheel would be disrupted until corrected, and this can have dire consequences for all who are needing access to the teachings and the healing energy of the wheel.
Had I left it where it was once she walked across the medicine wheel I would have been demonstrating to the Earth and to Spirit that I had complete disregard for the sacredness of the wheel, the ceremony and the teachings. This would have also put me back a number of years in regaining the respect that I had earned from the wheel. Instead, creating an on-the-spot ritual to heal the situation demonstrated my resolve to honour the wheel and her resolve to right something that was done out of ignorance. There was no malice involved in her action. She simply did not yet know.
When we allow ourselves to comprehend the consequences of our actions or non-actions we then become more responsible in our lives. This is simply the ability to respond and has nothing to do with the idea that it is a burden upon us. In fact, it can liberate us from burdens because we don’t carry around the weight of our non-responsiveness or the guilt for having not responded.