Unintended consequences…those consequences we don’t foresee when we put what we believe is a well thought-out plan in place. Consequences that we should have perhaps been able to foresee if we would have thought a bit longer about what we thought was our well thought-out plan.
The recognition of unintended consequences is often slow in the coming, and even once realized they are difficult to address. One cannot undo what has been done…one can only prevent future doings that one knows will most certainly be others’ undoing.
I believe that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales’ recent massacre of Afghan civilians was a byproduct of unintended consequences. Bales was in the process of serving his fourth combat tour. His lawyer stated that after Bales suffered a brain injury in Iraq he did not want to be deployed again, but the government saw fit to send him for another tour.
The choices made in regard to the extended combat in Afghanistan and Iraq have created a series of unintended consequences that will be evidenced across society for decades to come. The cost of these consequences will weigh heavily on us. We will see brave men and women change…we will know they are suffering, but we will be hardpressed to help them. The well-thought out plan resulted in the sale of pieces of their hearts and souls, caused them to have to trade off their sense of well-being, and narrowed their view of the potential of their tomorrows. They will be forever be affected by the unintended consequences that have come to define their reality.
The massacre of innocent civilians is wrong…but make no mistake, the tragedy began long ago when those who put the plan in place failed to listen to the lessons of the past. There are voices out there – voices of those who know and remember the consequences that come with combat – particularly overly long or repetitive tours…there are voices who have been screaming to be heard for years.
Now we have victims that have been molded into perpetrators in part by exposure and in part by a reckless disregard for the potential consequences they were subject to – consequences that should have been noted at the outset. The plan that made so much sense to the powers-that-be at the outset has now created the problem that they bemoan – they ignored the voices of the past, they ignored the reality that humans are part and parcel of humanity, they ignored the anguished cries of those in the trenches…and now we live with the consequences.
Day nine hundred and ninety-two of the new forty – obla di obla da