Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

“One cannot be held accountable for unintended consequences.”

My blog’s title is an intriguing sentence on the bottom of page 124 of Lethal White, the fourth detective novel written by J.K. Rowling and “published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith”. Is this statement valid?

This sentence is complex as it contains two related concepts: (1) accountability versus responsibility and (2) deeds, words & intentions. Indirectly, it also touches upon two other related concepts: (3) acceptance and (4) denial, which are both part of the process of Denial-Anger-Bargaining-Depression-Acceptance.

Wiki: “In the social sciencesunintended consequences []are outcomes of a purposeful action that are not intended or foreseen. The term was popularised in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton“. Hence, the above statement includes a 5th concept: expectations.

Example: my daily writing may lead to an event by someone whom I don’t know. Could I have expected / foreseen that event? The answer to that question may look simple (ie, “no”) but is not. The answer actually depends on my intentions because some writers are clearly provoking their readers. Nevertheless, I’m the only one – by definition – who is aware of my intentions, unless I shared these.

Deeds and words usually suggest intentions. These deeds and words could, however, be rooted in reverse psychology (my blogs). Hence, it’s easy to argue you didn’t have intentions at the time that could explain future consequences. Obviously, a lack of accountability is unrelated to future guilt and shame.

Future guilt and shame suggest perceived accountability, whether legal or moral. Hence, my blog’s title needs an explicit restriction: one cannot be held accountable by third parties for unintended consequences. You can hold yourself accountable and drown in guilt and shame. I suppose that’s the issue on p.124.

The above is the reason why my final editing (before publishing) is several hours or even days after my writing. I need to take a distance and then look through my reader’s eyes for any unintended consequences. Notwithstanding my due diligence, I would feel accountable, even without bearing (legal) responsibility.

For me, it would be a lessons learned exercise to determine how I can improve myself. I doubt I would feel guilt or shame as my intentions were pure. Also see my recent blog If Good does bad, does Good become Bad?

“If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.” A quote by Bill Clinton, the 42nd American President.

You Live (1995) by Alanis Morissette
artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

You grieve, you learn
You choke, you learn
You laugh, you learn
You choose, you learn
You pray, you learn
You ask, you learn
You live, you learn

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.


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