If You Can, Then Should You AND If You Should, Then Can You?

Just because I CAN eat these holly berries, SHOULD I?

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should AND just because you should doesn’t mean you can! Ok, so maybe you are wondering what, in the world, inspired me to make that statement? Well, a few days ago I was listening to an interview on KWMU, our local public radio station, when during an interview of a musician it was quoted. I don’t know the name of the person who quoted it, but I do remember how I immediately found it interesting and curious. Is it true and if so, when is it true?

Just because we SHOULD avoid car accidents, CAN we?

If you “google” the first sentence, you will find a lot of websites that make use of: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There aren’t so many that make use of the second part: Just because you should doesn’t mean you can. Really, both parts of the compound sentence leave me with reservations, but I’ll admit that the first part, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” is the easiest part for me to accept. I can imagine many cases where just because I can do something, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I should do it. For example, I can shoot a gun at my friend, but I don’t think I should shoot it at my friend. :-)

Let’s look a little deeper into the meaning of each part. First, just because you can doesn’t mean you should, I think is a statement that implies you should “step back” and think about the consequences of what you can do before you do it. I know that isn’t exactly what the statement means, but it does seem to imply that we pause and think before we act. Let’s consider an example of how this might happen. Suppose you can sell a business that employs many people who depend upon the business. You know that if you sell it, the business will be closed and/or moved far away. Suppose you also know that many families will be severely strained if the business closes or moves. So, just because you can sell the business, should you? Uhmmmmmmmmm….

Decisions – Should I, if I can; Can I, if I should?

Just because you should, doesn’t mean you can!  What does this statement imply? I think it’s obvious that there are many things we should do, but can’t. For example, I should always eat the right foods, do the right exercise, and in general do the right thing for my health. Can I?  No! I don’t think anyone can always do what s/he should. We are destined and/or doomed to be imperfect. It’s part of being human. On the other hand, not doing something that we should do and using the “excuse” that you are imperfect isn’t acceptable. It’s truly an excuse AND not a reason.

Ok, I’ve attempted to show when the statement, Just because you can doesn’t mean you should AND just because you should doesn’t mean you can, is true and when it isn’t. But, in general, besides being a clever play on words and somewhat worthwhile, what value is it to us?

I can speak, but should I?

I think when you, as an American citizen, are looking for a way to be a good citizen while using our First Amendment Right (freedom of speech), will find this helpful. Think about it! Just because you can express yourself as a citizen doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes, it’s important that once your ideas are made clear, you then let others of a different opinion express theirs. And just because you should speak out for or against an issue presented by your democratic government, doesn’t mean you can. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible. Although a democracy is “government by the people,” you can’t always express yourself – even if you should. You won’t always be able to vote even though you should. You won’t always be able to write a letter to a congress-person even though you should. The important thing is to do what you can when you should AND not feel guilty about not doing because you should.

Just because you can leave a comment, doesn’t mean you should, but I will appreciate your comment, if you do! :-)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: