DECISION

The quality of decision is defined in the dictionary as follows: The act of reaching a fixed opinion; the quality of being fixed and firm; determination.

The power of making a decision is one of the most essential aids to success and to happiness. We are all familiar with people who never know what they really want, who usually refuse to take the responsibility of making definite decisions, and in the few cases where they do make such decisions are never satisfied with the results proceeding therefrom.

While it is true that a large number of people make decisions arbitrarily without full knowledge of facts, and often with prejudice, there is a certain definite satisfaction and helpfulness that comes to other individuals in knowing just where the others stand. If a man knows that another man is a definite enemy, he is far better able to make his own plans accordingly than if he is building upon the foundation of a fluctuating and unstable friendship.

A man may be totally wrong in his opinion, but the fact that he sticks to it and really has an opinion of his own, derived from his own brain, is a stabilizing influence upon the actions of his fellow men. Things that are definite, regardless of how bad they might be, are always easier to combat and to overcome than things that are uncertain and extremely changeable.

It is an enormous undertaking to build one of our modern skyscrapers, or one of the great dams that have been erected in various portions of the Country. Great obstacles have to be surmounted, but because the engineers are dealing with certain stable elements, it is possible to plan with certainty upon the job being completed and even to approximately estimate the time required for completion.

Suppose, however, that a large portion of the concrete or of the structural materials were known to be unstable and uncertain, that these materials had the power to change their nature and refuse to do the thing expected of them. No engineer would use such material, for permanent structures must stand the tests of time and strain.

Human beings with weak and vacillating minds are composed of just such material as we have mentioned. They cannot be counted on by either friend or foe. They are almost certain to be of a different mind one day than they were the previous day, and they are practically sure of having an entirely different opinion, if possible, by tomorrow.

Ignorance and prejudice and the opinions originating from them are two of the greatest obstacles to human progress and happiness, but they are far easier to conquer, subdue and eliminate, than the elusive quality of indecision. It is better to have wrong opinions than to have no opinions at all.

A physician may battle a disease or an affliction, regardless of its deadly quality, just so long as he can correctly diagnose the case, but if his diagnosis reveals one cause one day and a directly opposite the following day, he is unable to make any progress whatever toward the elimination of the disease, and the cure of his patient.

A man with wrong opinions may be a dangerous adversary, but at least he is one man, and you only have to look in one direction to see him. The man with the changeable mind, however, is just as hard to overcome as three or four adversaries who continually hop around, fighting from the back as well as the front, and, seemingly acting the part of a friend, help to give you the knockout blow. It is impossible for individuals to lay their plans correctly upon the foundation of other individuals who may be their friends one day and their foes the following.

We have given considerable space to the comparative qualities of those who have decidedly wrong opinions and those who have no opinions at all. In other words, between those who are capable of making a decision, however wrong, and those who are incapable of such definite action. We have done this particularly because there is a great trend at the present time in the direction of people being so broad-minded that they might just as well have no mind at all.

Even the question of morals has become surrounded with so much confusion that many comparatively intelligent and high-minded people are advocating or sponsoring movements or activities that would heretofore have been regarded as criminal or illegal. The most damaging part of this so-called broadmindedness is that the activities under taken are understood to be for the welfare of the people.

Following the present trend to its natural conclusion would mean that at certain periods the entire wealth of the nation would be equally distributed among all the people and that all power would be lodged in the hands of politicians, deceptively labeled government.

This means that the incentive to progress and acquire personal possessions would practically be eliminated and that the standard of living would not only drop to a low point, but would remain there, as there would be no incentive for those who had the ability to raise the standard of living to make the effort.

In older days the forcible taking away of another person’s property was called by its right name, theft, but in this modern era the forcible taking away of property through the means of taxation and solely for the benefit of certain classes or individuals, is called liberal and is done in the name of the welfare of the Country. Taxation was founded for sustaining the legitimate expenses of government, but it was never intended to be used for the purpose of taking away from one to give to another.

The average honorable man at one time made his decision in regard to theft and dishonesty. It is particularly important that that decision remain unchanged regardless of all the sophistry and camouflage surrounding the question at the present time.

Every man of average intelligence knows that he is not entitled to benefits which he does not actually earn through his own efforts. That is a very simple statement and it is just as simple to carry it out, unless the element of selfishness enters in.

It is also necessary to remember that the people are supposed to support the government and that it has never been the duty or responsibility of government to support the people. Government is not able to support any portion of the people for the simple reason that government has no funds of its own and has to be actually supported itself.

Government is an employee of the country’s citizens. Yet this employee assumes the right of taking money that is not needed for purposes of government and using it for the support of individuals, whereas this particular problem belongs to the individual citizens of any community. It is not our purpose to go into this particular subject further in this article. We are merely using this example to show the necessity of making a decision and then sticking to that decision when we know it is right.

Another example has to do with the cancellation of airmail contracts by the government without hearings to determine fraud. A still broader example was the arbitrary reduction of the value of the dollar. We must remember that expediency and need do not justify dishonorable or illegal acts.

We must also remember that the power to do things that are unjust in no way lessens our responsibility when we commit such acts. A strong and powerful man has the power to kill or maim a weaker individual, but certainly this does not justify such action. So a national government has power to do many things that are both illegal and dishonorable, merely because the people have no recourse.

Governments necessarily have to be given arbitrary power, under certain circumstances and conditions, for the preservation and safety of the nation, but the endeavor to prolong and expand such exceptional powers should be the very reason for ending them. In other words, those who are willing to continue with emergency powers for any great length of time and those who are determined not to release such powers are the very individuals who are dangerous when they have such powers at their command.

There are many individuals who have decided that this Country should be autocratically ruled by a central government at Washington. They have made their decision and they are sticking to it, regardless of the fact that they are wrong in principle and unfair in attitude. At least, however, they have the power of decision.

It is important that individuals who believe in real liberty should stick just as uncompromisingly to their own decision, which they have previously made, to the effect that they desire the citizens of the nation to be its real rulers.

Just as soon as questions of political persuasion, of personal gain, of religious intolerance and of prejudices create a situation where those who believe in liberty are divided and set against each other, it creates conditions where the believers in autocratic government can throw their support to one side or the other for their own selfish interests.

Just as soon as the liberty which most Americans believe in thoroughly, has been taken away from them, we will find that religious and political liberty will also be lost shortly thereafter.

Freedom of religion and autocratic government are directly and permanently antagonistic and will forever remain so. It is necessary that individual citizens make their decision upon the great fundamentals of our system of free government as embodied in the Constitution of the United States. If they do not desire liberty they have a perfect right to renounce it, but they have no right whatever to refuse to recognize that it is the intention of many individuals in powerful positions to take this liberty away from them. Everyone has a perfect right to give up privileges and rights of their own, but they have no moral right to evade their responsibility and their duty to their country and its citizens.

Every individual has innumerable personal decisions to make during the course of his lifetime. It is exceedingly important that all decisions be made as promptly as possible and not put off or delayed beyond the time necessary for him to arrive at a knowledge of the facts and circumstances necessary to making the decision.

If such facts and circumstances are not available and if it is necessary to make the decision without such facts, then the decision should be made from the standpoint of common sense, upon the basis of the facts that are available. It is important to such facts are obtainable, as that is the only just method, but it is our duty as individuals to proceed to obtain the facts as promptly as possible.

There is no such thing as a neutral or waiting attitude as between right and wrong, justice and injustice, honor or dishonor, for waiting often allows the wrong to triumph and justice to be dethroned. It even allows honor to become dulled and sometimes eliminated. It is always wise to do the thing that is right regardless of the consequences.

Expediency is often used as a method of self preservation, or of selfish attainment, but where expediency becomes necessary for this purpose, and the path of honor, of justice and of self-respect is not followed, then the thing that is preserved is not worth preserving, and the individuals benefited do not deserve such benefits, but in fact deserve punishment.

The average individual has to decide upon so many things that it is impossible to catalogue the different items. There are things that pertain to his relation to his home and relatives, his wife and family, his friends and acquaintances, his job and his business associates, his social activities, his political and religious activities, his personal responsibilities and his responsibilities to others. Even such matters as cleanliness, health, safety, comfort, pleasure, etc., are all matters of continuous and personal decision.

The man who knows what he wants out of life, and who has the character to strive for only those things which are worth while, has an inestimable advantage over other individuals, both in the power of decision and the time required to make such decision. In effect it gives him a much longer life to live than the man who does not know what he wants, as his life is fuller and more complete, more active, and more interesting.

The chief and most beneficial result, however, is that it enables him to secure so much

more happiness out of life. Happiness is the real result that everyone is striving to attain and the man who knows what he wants can find that happiness more quickly and in much larger measure.

Besides, if he makes decisions promptly, using honor and common sense as an aid, then, even if the decisions are wrong, he is able to more quickly correct his mistakes and to get back on the right path.

It is again worth while, however, to warn individuals that quickness of decision is not a virtue when it is not based upon available facts. In such circumstances quick decisions may be unjust and dishonorable, as well as very unwise. As a matter of fact, if an individual is not willing to ascertain facts before making his decision, then his decision does not really amount to anything and could not really be called a decision at all, for he has simply refused to use his brain rather than having used it for the purpose of making a decision. In other words, a decision must be the result of an active use of our mentality and not a refusal to use such mentality.

This may sound very complicated to the average individual because he thinks of all the decisions that he will have to make in the future years. One simple rule can be followed, however, that will make the process itself simple and effective. We only need to use our common sense and to decide upon each question from the standpoint of right or wrong, eliminating any personal consideration, prejudice or benefit entirely from the picture.

If we would only decide upon our actions with the same intelligence that we would use in advising some other individual in similar circumstances, where we were not personally concerned, we would then find that the path would be smooth before us, and that our efforts to conduct our affairs with intelligence and with honor were successful, progressive and productive of self-respect and happiness.

H. B. MONJAR  – December, 1935