Much has been written about unintended consequences, of decisions made and actions taken. Have you ever wondered what the world would have been like had those who came before us decided differently than history records? For the sake of discussion, let’s each of us ponder; try to imagine life today had humanity taken a different course based on alternative decisions made by people, some in positions of power, others for the betterment of mankind, still others with evil intent, and then the inventors and innovators at the pinnacle of change.
Edmond Burke wrote “those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it”. We could go back centuries, millennia, but let’s begin by traveling back to a place and time that based on one powerful mans decision changed the world and the lives of billions of people forever. Keep in mind, each of the events are separate and distinct from each other, one has no affect on the other. WHAT IF:
- Pontius Pilate refused to condemn Christ and then set him free. 32AD
- The Spanish Crown decided not to finance Christopher Columbus’ expedition, or, what if Columbus did set sail, and instead of mistakenly charting a course westward to the East Indies navigated correctly and never arrived on the shores of the New World. 1492
- English Separatists, known as the Pilgrims, did not set sail on the Mayflower and make it to Plymouth, Mass., and either never left England, or if they did landed elsewhere. 1620
- The Founding Fathers did not assemble together, the thirteen original colonies did not unite and remained separate and distinct, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution never written, and the war for independence never fought, and over 25,000 colonists and 4,000 British were not killed on the battle fields. 1775-1782
- Abraham Lincoln did not win the presidency, John Breckinridge a southern democrat was the victor, and the Civil War never fought, and from 620,000 to 750,000 souls never perished on battlefields. 1860
- European descendents of Western Civilization did not emigrate and remained in their respective homelands, and did not immigrate to the New World. 18th and 19th
- There was no struggle by Cuba for independence from Spain, resulting in no Spanish American War, and over 3500 servicemen never lost their lives. 1898
- Orville and Wilbur Wright failed to make the first controlled sustained flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. 1903
- The German inventor Karl Benz had not introduced the first modern day version of the automobile, and Henry Ford the first automobile assembly line and the Model T Ford. 1886-1913
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria had not been assassinated and World War I never fought, and the RMS Lusitania not sunk by a German U-boat, which contributed to the United States entry into the war, and over 38,000,000 souls, military and civilian, never lost their lives. 1914-1918
- Germany had not invaded Poland, and Japan Pearl Harbor, and World War II never fought, and between 50 to more than 80,000,000 million deaths military and civilian, were saved. In absolute terms of the total dead, this was the deadliest conflict in human history. 1939-1945
- The first real network run (Arpanet) was not accomplished, the connection not made between computers at Stanford and UCLA, these were the first host systems on what one day would become the Internet. October 1969
- The United States never entered and fought in the Vietnam War, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened, and over 58,000 U.S. service members, and over 800,000 Vietnamese military and civilians military were not killed.
- North Korea had not invaded South Korea, and the United States entry in support of the South and the Soviet Union support of the North never occurred, and over 178,000 military and civilians did lose their lives. 1950-1953
- What if some of the world’s most brutal dictators did not carry out their dastardly deeds, and tens, even hundreds of millions innocent lives were spared. Caesar, Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, al-Bashir, to name a few. 100BC – PRESENT
Why bother you might ask, why does it matters, its water under the bridge, let’s not dwell on the past or what might have been. It does matter; the decisions we make can have repercussions, good or bad, like ripples in a stream as they expand outward. If Caesar had indeed set Christ free, then unless by divine intervention, His resurrection would not have occurred and Christianity would not exist today. If Lincoln had not been elected, the Civil War not fought, chances are slavery would have continued, but the other side of the coin is that hundreds of thousands of souls would not have lost their lives.
Is there some grand plan for humanity, is our destiny foretold, and was all past decisions already written in the stars and not under our control. As we approach the November election for president, keep in mind that decisions have consequences. The American people will decide and vote, and the winner will have a tremendous impact on all our lives and of those who come after us.