The Law of Unintended Consequences

Who is responsible for them?

“The Law of Unintended Consequences holds that almost all human actions have at least one unintended consequence.”

But many human actions are simply reactions with no conscious intention behind them in the first place, therefore all consequences that follow these reactions could be deemed to having been “unintended.”

Such as: “Duh gee…You startled me, I didn’t intend to shoot you.” said this:

Unintended consequences, or situations where the final outcome is unexpected, can be classed into roughly three groups:

* positive, usually referred to as serendipity or a windfall
* a source of problems, according to Murphy’s law
* definitively negative or a perverse effect, which is the opposite result to the one intended

I don’t agree that an “unintended consequence” implies anything positive such as a “windfall’ (or good luck) simply because the word “consequence” implies a negative unwanted result that may be costly. If it were positive, it would have been called an “unintended reward” and if it were neutral, it would have been called an “unintended result.”

I also do not agree that the law of unintended consequences has anything to do with Murphy’s law, or that there is anything even real about “Murphy’s law” which is more of a joke about bad luck than any kind of scientific law. Nor do I believe that the “law of unintended consequences” points to a result that is the opposite result to the one actually intended, although that is one of many possibilities.

When people use the term “the law of unintended consequences” to describe a situation, what they probably mean by it is “collateral damage” or “an accident,” or “bad luck.” It seems to me that they are just making excuses for careless or thoughtless actions. There are always quantum reasons for accidents, collateral damage and bad luck. These results follow wrong thinking and wrong actions of known or unknown origin, which could be from a combination of different human actions where consideration and responsibility for said actions is denied.

A series of automatic reactions to an event or perceived experience can cause havoc and chaos and any number of consequences which might be explained as “the law of unintended consequences” or “collateral damage.” This damage results because there is nothing positive about automatically reacting to something. Any true automatic reaction is negative and devoid of any real willful conscious intent. It is usually simply a person following a pattern of programed responses. They do not stop to even consider the consequences. They simply react according to programing, instinct and patterns.

This negative reaction is not necessarily always undesirable or “wrong.” It is just not thought out. But we can’t always “think out” every automatic reaction, such as swatting a fly or running from an angry bear. Sometimes these automatic reactions can save our life, an sometimes they can get us into worse trouble. My point is, they are automatic programed responses, not conscious intentions.

Also, some people are not honest about their true intentions. They may try to interfere with other people’s personal life or business and declare that their intention was to help, when really their true intention was to control the situation or the person, or some other intention or agenda. If the results of their actions cause chaos or consequences, they might think of it according to “the law of unintended consequences” in order to deflect the blame from themselves.

Consequences are negative results and prices paid for reactions and actions, (intended or not.) “Unintended consequences” are the negative results and prices paid for reactions and actions that were unknown, unexpected or not considered.

You might say that one cannot possibly be aware of all of the ramifications of their act as there are an infinite number of possible consequences. So how can a person avoid being the cause of bad consequences? You cannot really, but you can decrease them. The cause of bad consequences generally come from wrong actions or wrong thinking so the answer to this dilema is to act with divine love and compassion, and to do what is right and what is for the good of all concerned if possible.

If your act is one of kindness, love and compassion, any unintended consequences of that act will be because of the negative reactive situation at work from other angles and not because of your act. Some situations in play are past the point of no return, having too many influences of bad thoughts and bad decisions influencing them and just have to play themselves out to a conclusion. You can either make them worse or better by adding your positive actions or negative reactions. There is no way to know how a single act of kindness will change the situation or a person’s life, and there is no way of knowing how a negative act of cruelty or selfishness will impact the situation.

If you act with love and kindness, then you can rest assured that you have probably improved the situation even if it cannot be known. You are 100% responsible for everything you create, and that includes unintended consequences. So always do the right thing and you will sleep better at night. Chances are you improved the situation by your actions.

Published in: on September 30, 2006 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  

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