Some 100 years ago two team leaders adopted the same goal: they both sought to be the first to lead an expedition to the South Pole.
Once made, the decision presented them with countless choices: selecting the clothing to wear, the food to eat, and, most importantly, the mode of transport.
Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer, gleaned from Inuit methodology the best type of equipment and clothing to use. He chose dogs to pull the sleds. He dispatched his foodstuffs and certain other supplies before the main expedition set off, strategically locating them along the early part of the proposed route, thereby lessening the loads his dogs would have
to pull. He carefully considered every details, and from his informed base he made decisions as to how to proceed.
Robert Falcon Scott, however, a British naval officer, chose to use ponies and ‘modern’ motorised sledges. He was a brave and daring man, but apparently did not pay the same attention to Inuit methodology as did Amundsen. His motorised sleds ceased functioning after a few days, and the ponies could not
stand the frigid conditions. By the time he and his team reached the Transantarctic Mountains, the ponies were in such poor condition they had to be killed. Scott arrived at the South Pole to find that Amundsen had beaten him to the goal.
The outcome for one team was triumph; for the other, death and disaster. The diaries of
Scott’s heroic team chronicled a story of frostbite, starvation, and eventually death on the
return journey from the pole.
Decisions made or neglected by Amundsen and Scott represented choices. Some were made
very consciously and intentionally; others were possibly influenced by emotion, personality,
culture, or whim. Brave and courageous though Scott and his men were, they suffered the
consequences of their choices and decisions, perhaps made in ignorance, but nevertheless
lethal in outcome.
Choices – the cradle of destiny
Choices often determine our destiny. To a large extent even our health can be determined
by the choices we make on how we live, the risks we take, and the balance we seek in life.
We each come into the world with an endowment for health that may vary from that of
others, but how we care for the gift of our health influences the expression of our genetic
The intricacies of handmade Asian rugs are remarkable and often represent hundreds of
thousands and sometimes even millions of individual choices. For those rugs with 800
handtied knots per square inch, the maker has to select a coloured thread to create the
pattern 800 times. In the overall pattern, the subtle variety in the shapes making up the
whole speaks to the individuality of each knot.
Our lives are patterned in a similar way. Every day we make countless seemingly
insignificant decisions, the sum of which determines the overall fabric of our lives.
Intentionality is key
Intentionality in decision-making brings direction and order to our lives. Successful people
generally set goals and objectives; highly successful individuals make evidence-based
decisions that move them deliberately toward those goals.
Unfortunately, some decisions made in youth – as a result of ignorance, rebellion, or stubbornness – can have lifelong repercussions. Similarly, poor parenting practices can encumber children with a lifetime of consequences. In many cases the current epidemic of obesity in children in the Western world reflects parental resignation to allowing too much electronic entertainment at the expense of physical activity. Fast and convenient foods replace simple, unrefined, natural foods. The immediate gratification of fast, oily, and high-calorie foods pleases both parents and children, but the consequences of such choices may last a lifetime. Once formed, fat cells persist for years, awaiting excess calories to be stored as fat. Chubby children are obese adults-in-waiting. The fat baby carries a legacy for life that perhaps reflects the parental inability or unwillingness to control calorific intake. Conscious intentionality is an important part of making such choices.
Today we have a wealth of evidence that can guide us in making choices. Principles of balance and moderation, with the avoidance of harmful substances, will pay dividends in
the health of temperate and informed people.
This article is adapted from a publication, "Celebrations, Living life to the full", published by the General Conference of SDA Health Ministries Department.