July 24, 2023 | Issue 78
1 Quote. 1 Reflection. 1 Question.
"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita. Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and to impress him takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that one way or another."
-From: J. Robert Oppenheimer
Over the weekend Oppenheimer took the world by storm. Scroll social media for 5 minutes and it feels like the entire world was at the movie theater watching Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, Oppenheimer. Admittedly I was one of the thousands of people who made their way to the box office.
The movie is about Oppenheimer, his role in the creation of the Manhattan Project, and the events after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In this quote, Oppenheimer describes what it was like hearing the news that the bombs have been dropped.
In life, we make choices and act on things in which we don't know the outcomes or the fallout. We try to play out every situation and outcome but in the end, we can't be fully prepared emotionally and psychologically for what comes.
-Deciding to take a loved one off life support.
-Deciding to move our family across the country.
-Deciding to undergo a risky surgery.
-Deciding to let go of a relationship.
-Deciding to cut off a toxic friend.
-Deciding to quit a job.
All of these things have unintended consequences and benefits. Our decisions may make us smile, laugh, cry, scream, question, self-hate, and so on. But this is how life works. We don't get do-overs. We can't replay the birth of our first child, or take back the things we said in 6th grade.
We can only learn, reflect, and adapt. Oppenheimer didn't regret building the atomic bomb because he felt it was needed to stop World War II. However, he went on to oppose the hydrogen bomb because he didn't want a future of nuclear war. He realized how powerful the atomic bomb was and wanted countries to understand that more powerful bombs would not solve the world's problems.
Oppenheimer believed he did the right thing given the situation and the information he had. We too should look at our decisions through this lens. It is easy to look back with better information and more time, but life doesn't happen that way. In most cases, we must act with limited time and information, and we should be careful to not beat ourselves up in hindsight.
What is a decision you regret and why?
ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER
The 1-Step Forward Newsletter is a weekly Sunday newsletter.
Each issue contains 1 Quote, 1 Reflection, and 1 Question each meant to guide you on the next step forward in your life towards improvement.
July 30 (newer)
"For our own country, it has been a time of recurring trial. We have grown in power and in responsibility. We have passed through the anxieties of depression and of war, but to a summit unmatched in man's history. Seeking to secure peace in the world, while we have had to fight our way through the forests of the Argonne to the shores of Iwo Jima, and to the cold mountains of Korea." -Dwight D. Eisenhower
July 16 (older)
"Engage your brain before you engage your weapon." -Jim Mattis