Chapter 9 of Kolp & Rea (2006), the author begin by discussing free will and the subject of choice in terms of prudence in character. With the subheading discussion of imprudence then as the authors outline ignorance, neglect, denial and willful imprudence the subject of choice begins to nag at me further. They state the “in much of life and business not choosing is not an option” (179), and it is within the grey areas of complex life situations that individuals define themselves as prudent or not, based on their willful and free choice of behavior and action.
This makes me first declare that I believe that not choosing is an unspoken option here and further can have much more powerful ramifications. Consciously deciding on inaction can at times have much more profound effects on individuals, families or systems. I think of a family dealing with the aging of a family member. The aging family member, possibly grandma or grandpa, is slowly beginning to lose the ability to care for him or herself. The prudent option is to take measures to protect the person, however this sometimes has more powerful unintended consequences on the psyche of the person. So no action is made. This is not due to ignorance as the family is fully aware of the health problems of the aging member. This is not due to total leadership neglect either, as many measures may have been instituted to help pick up the slack. Possibly tasks have been delegated, weekly grocery shopping, filling the pill containers weekly, or the neighbor boy is hired to mow the lawn instead. However, the prudent choice is still being ‘unchosen’.
Some blame might fall in the denial category, as possibly the family is not taking into account the full extent to the health problems- however the problem is not going unexamined hinting that to me, the gravity of the problem is not being denied its existence. Only enacting of a choice is being denied. Finally, willfully imprudent leadership is not totally accurate either, as there is no real way to fully distort the reality of the aging person, short of entirely disavowing the existence of the person in question.
Literally, the fault is lying here in the profound effects of non-action, of not making a choice when a choice must be made. Small, short-term resolutions are present but no all-encompassing and prudent solution has been found. The system is stuck. So, is the conclusion then, that action taken can only be seen as such when the action is focused on remedy of the entire toxic system, and not just small pieces that do not effect the entire outcome? Aren’t these small wins like a sort of disavowal of the larger problem- or can change only happen on a small-scale basis so that little by little small changes lead to large accomplishments? In either case, non-action and fleeing the obvious choice seem most dangerous to leadership and to progress.