Dangerously powerful—or powerfully dangerous—people have the capacity to spread misery worldwide. Rather than acting early to derail the damage those individuals may inflict, though, society tends to take an attitude of “wait and see.” Our failure to take action early can be based on any number of things. Fear of reprisal may deter us. Conflicting thoughts about the morality of preemptive actions might restrain us. Simply realizing that some forms of preemption may be treated as criminal and/or immoral acts could stop us from acting early enough to prevent the possibility of chaos and carnage. No matter the reasons, delay can make avoiding potential misery impossible. Yet preemptive actions taken in the absence of overwhelming evidence of the need to act can lead to equally awful horrors. Evidence, though, no matter how overwhelmingly strong, is not proof—witnessing a man pointing a gun at someone may be evidence of aggression, but viewing that scene does not prove the gun-wielding man will pull the trigger. Political assassinations intended to prevent dictatorships can have unintended consequences far worse than the problems they were intended to solve. Sometimes, though, the risk of doing nothing may be far greater than the risk of taking action. But unexpected outcomes of actions are impossible to anticipate. Taking calculated risks has the potential to exacerbate already bad circumstances, but failing to take them can be worse. Life is an exercise in assumptions and risks and irrevocable actions. Certainty is rarely achievable. We either forge ahead or we don’t. The consequences of either action or inaction will be what they will be.


I do not know whether my occasional memories of green grape pie are triggered by a specific odor or sound or circumstance. I know only that I have a very distinct memory of my mother serving me a piece of green grape pie. The taste of the grapes combined sweetness and tartness. The memory is the only one I have of that pie. I must have been very young, perhaps as young as four or five; odd that the memory corresponds in my mind with an image of myself as a little boy.


Time, paused for a while this morning, has recovered from its temporary stillness. Somehow, the clock now asserts that the 9 o’clock hour is here. That could mean only one thing: I need to eat something to avoid starvation.



About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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