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Getting On With Getting On

“Carpe diem, quam minimum credula
postero.” = “Seize the day, put no trust in tomorrow.” — Horace

Along with “Carpe diem,” Horace said, “He has the deed half done
who has made a beginning.” Indira Gandhi also thought that getting on with
getting on is the way to go, “Have a bias toward action – let’s see
something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the
first step right away.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy joined the get your get up
and go up and going chorus when he said, “There are risks and costs to a
program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of
comfortable inaction.” And perchance you think that people will simply assume
that you have good intentions without your actually needing to go for it, the
famous Anon pointed out, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not
your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled

There you have it, the argument for not sitting around twiddling
your thumbs; but, as with most ideas, there is an alternative point of view.
One might suppose that it’s now time to dig in, go for the gusto, strike while
the iron is hot, expatiate, explicate, and generally expound on that
alternative point of view; but one would be wrong. Remember Johann von Goethe’s
warning, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

If that isn’t sufficient to slow the pace, also remember Walter
Kerr’s observation, “Half the world is composed of idiots, the other half of
people clever enough to take indecent advantage of them.” It would be well
to first determine whether one is clever, an idiot, or merely a clever idiot
before jumping to an ill considered conclusion. If all of that still doesn’t
put the brakes on for you, persuade you to look before you leap, and convince
you not to jump off the cliff until you learn how to fly, listen to Laurence J.
Peter, “Fortune knocks but once, but misfortune has much more patience.” And
speaking of misfortune, even Horace advised you to put no trust in tomorrow.

OK, you’ve got them, the alternative points of view. Do you act
or not act, take a chance or play it safe? Sure, you need to Carpe diem; but
it’s worth pointing out that even Horace didn’t say that it can’t wait till
after lunch.

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