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What is Better?
April 07, 2005 14:00
I'm most certainly not perfect. I'm made a bunch of stupid mistakes in my life, and hard as I try not to, I'll probably make a few more. However, making mistakes and suffering the inevitable consequences of them has provided me with the priceless commodity of experience. Sometimes the experience is worth the pain involved in achieving it. Sticking your finger in an electrical socket is a cheap and easy way to learn the valuable lesson that electricity can be dangerous, and you'll learn to respect it in the future. Some mistakes are far more costly and in the end, the experience just confirms that the stupid mistake you made was in fact stupid, and you probably already knew that before you made it, which makes the mistake all the more stupid.
So, now being more or less grown up, I may not have all the answers to the world's problems, but I can recognize when someone is about to do something stupid, and I have the opportunity to speak up and attempt to prevent it, or at least give them the information to make a more informed decision. However, unsolicited advice is not always welcome, and in some cases can have an effect oppositite of that intended. And while I get to wag my finger after the fact and say "I told you so", a heck of a lot of good THAT does anyone.
So lets say I have a friend who is about to do something REALLY REALLY stupid. More importantly, anyone who can look at the situation objectively will agree with me. However, the friend is a grown person who should, and quite likely does know better and is hell bent on going forward with the stupid objective, believing everything will work out great, when all evidence, knowledge, statistics, and experience says it will backfire miserably. However, if I interfere and attempt to passively prevent it, it will at best severely hack off the people involved, and likely end the friendship. So those are my choices.
I've done both in the past, and neither one has a desireable result. In the past when I've strongly objected, it resulted in a pissed off friend, we didn't talk to each other for months, things resulted exactly as I said they would. Now, maybe the friend will listen to me the next time. And there's some merit in making the stupid mistakes when you're young and have time to recover, before you lose something priceless in the process. But what if there IS something important to lose if the wrong decision is made? A simple "hey, this might be a bad idea" isn't gonna cut it either, I'm going to have to point out every aspect of the decision, and probably make the friend feel like a total idiot for even thinking it in the first place. This won't make them happy. Should I do it anyway? Much as it is a problem, I hate seeing the outcome when I do nothing.