Not-doing LO1109

David E. Birren, MB/5, 608.267.2442 (
Mon, 8 May 1995 13:23 CST

Replying to Theresa Elliott LO1108:

> If a person chooses "not-to-do" they in essence have placed the
>responsibility to THINK or not to THINK about the inaction on the other

The question for me is whether I have thought through the situation
thoroughly enough to know what to do, or if I should wait before acting,
or if I should decide to sit tight and let the big picture (the ecology of
the universe, if you will) work things out. I can't delegate that kind of
thinking. Maybe if I get wise someday I'll just "know", but until then I
ponder ...

> However, "not-doing" becomes dangerous when one considers the potential
>consequences of inaction. If we choose the "not doing" route we must be
>prepared for whatever the consequences are as a result of the other parties
>thinking, assumptions, and actions.

That's absolutely right. But there's a benefit to this: one more person
who decides to "not do" means one less bit of interference with things we
probably don't understand completely. Of course, this is in the context
of living in the world, where we make decisions and act ("do") all the
time. I guess the issue is, as I mentioned above, how to know when to do
and when to not-do. If in doubt, it's often best to err on the side of
not-doing. I've made far more mistakes acting rashly than in forbearance.


David E. Birren Phone: (608)267-2442
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources Fax: (608)267-3579
Bureau of Management & Budget Internet:
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"To know, and not to act, is to not know."
--Wang Yang Ming, 9th-century Chinese general