ERROL CASTENS: Blessed are those who mean well, we hope

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

The Coffee Clutchers had adjourned to the porch at Arthur’s to enjoy that almost-perennial phenomenon, the August cool snap.
Conversation ran from who was haying to what knothead boy who was now surprisingly all grown up and running for office. Bud had even wheedled some free advice from Doc about toenail fungus, learning that at least one treatment for the problem can destroy smell and taste.
Roy Lee urged Bud to try the medication anyway.
“We wouldn’t mind if you lost all your smell,” Roy Lee joked. “And judging by the suit you wore to Oswald’s funeral, you’ve already lost all taste.”
We turned serious. The idea of a medicine that solves one problem and creates two more opened up new talking territory – those whose well-intended work illustrated the Law of Unintended Consequences.
“Think about the folks who imported kudzu or Johnsongrass to the Southeast,” Butch said. “Both are unmitigated disasters.”
Lester mentioned the California preacher who predicted the final judgment would come on May 21.
“He probably started his ministry with good intentions,” he said.
Rob noted British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler as a classic case of good intentions gone tragically wrong.
“It was like throwing water on a grease fire,” he said.
Skeet answered, “I wonder how many people have literally done that?” and several of us affirmed folks in our own circles who’d done so, to their quick and fervent regret.
Chester turned the talk a bit partisan.
“John Maynard Keynes would fit that category,” he said, referring to the British economist who is both lauded and lambasted for his theories of monetary control.
“Then there are whole movements of unintended consequences,” Mark said. “Like Prohibition, which gave rise to the power of gangsters in the 1920s and ’30s, and the War on Drugs that continues to do the same thing for different kinds of gangsters today.”
It didn’t take long to think of examples from our own lives.
Jimbo highlighted the second-story bedroom he’d added with picture windows on all sides, which was nearly impossible to heat or cool.
Bud recalled the Brahma bloodlines he’d added to his cattle herd about a year before Brahmas developed a reputation for wildness.
I mentioned dropping a tree on myself while cutting firewood to pay for college tuition.
Clyde said every time he teaches Sunday School, he reminds his class that neither good intentions nor good results can erase the blots on our respective records.
“But it’s a lot easier,” he said, “to ask forgiveness when you meant well.”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at

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