The law of unintended consequences

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In 1876, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, an imported plant from southern Japan named kudzu was introduced as a forage crop and an ornamental.

Kudzu was promoted by the Soil Conservation Service from 1935 to 1950 as an agent to reduce soil erosion. Now, it is considered a pest.

It is evident in many places in our communities covering old home places, banks along roads, and sometimes invading our gardens.

On a hike along an old railroad grade going into Brierfield Iron Works, one has a hard time even walking through it.

Little did those who introduced this plant know that it would have no natural predators and that conditions in the South would be ideal for it to grow up to a foot a day, covering all in its way.

Many of us introduce kudzu into our lives. Things we think may solve a problem or make us happy can become a greater problem than the original one.

If we are feeling down, we may take drugs or alcohol to make the pain go away, but the unintended consequence may be developing a dependence on the drug or alcohol.

We thus lose control of our lives and give that control to a substance. Small choices determine the ultimate course of our lives.

Choices in what we watch on TV, videos or movies, and what we read, listen to and think about have a great effect on our ultimate destination.

Christ taught the parable of the sower who flung his seeds on his field (Matt 13:3-9).

I can imagine that much like the seed that fell among thorns, if it had fallen in kudzu, it would be choked out just as the thorns choked out the young plant. As we make choices, we need to anticipate where each choice is taking us and carefully determine if there may be some unintended consequences to that choice.

Are we getting closer to God by this choice, or farther away?

Wallace Mitchell is a member of the local High Council of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter–day Saints.