“I so love the Spanish proverb ‘God says, Choose what you will and pay for it,’ which stresses that life holds no easy answers, that conscious choices are often costly ones. We must live with and pay for their consequences. Understanding this, we learn what it means to be fully human” (Marsha Sinetar).
WE OFTEN THINK OF CONSEQUENCES IN NEGATIVE TERMS, BUT THE IDEA CAN ALSO BE POSITIVE. For every time that someone says, “Do this or you’ll suffer the consequences,” there are just as many times when it could be said, “Do this and you’ll enjoy the consequences.” The word “consequence” simply means “effect” or “result.” We live in a world where things happen in “sequence.” (One thing leads to another, as the saying goes.) So the “consequence” of an action is its “sequel,” the thing that follows it and flows from it. Whether consequences are good or bad depends upon the quality of the actions that produced them. In other words, we reap what we sow.
It’s important to see that consequences are inevitable. There is no such thing as an action that doesn’t have any result, so it is never entirely true to say, “This won’t make any difference.” Everything we do makes some difference, for better or worse. We may not see the results, but see them or not, we may be sure that our actions have consequences. With our every action, we make the world a little bit different than it would have been had we not chosen to do that deed.
So we must accept responsibility for the consequences of our actions — especially as they relate to the people around us. “Keep in mind that each of you has your own vineyard. But every one is joined to your neighbor’s vineyards without any dividing lines. They are so joined together, in fact, that you cannot do good or evil for yourself without doing the same to your neighbors” (Catherine of Siena).
All in all, we can be glad that our actions have consequences. If that weren’t true, we would have no power to effect positive change in the world. So while it is sobering to know that every evil deed does damage, let us be encouraged that good deeds have consequences too.
“Nature imitates herself. A grain thrown into good ground brings forth fruit; a principle thrown into a good mind brings forth fruit. Everything is created and conducted by the same Master — the root, the branch, the fruits — the principles, the consequences” (Blaise Pascal).