Wisdom is triage

Everyone’s anti-war. Tension arises because we’re anti-other-things as well.¬†Likewise, everyone’s pro-life. Again, tension arises because we’re pro-other-things as well. In many cases then, wisdom is triage.

Triage is the art of brutal prioritization. First named in World War I, we probably employed a similar process centuries ago. Doctors separate wounded victims into categories.

  • Those who are likely to live, regardless of the care they receive.
  • Those who are likely to die, regardless of the care they receive.
  • Those whose outcome depends on the care they receive.

With limited resources, doctors tend to the victims in the third group. It’s not that they don’t care all the victims – it’s that their care only makes a difference for some. The doctors try to make their care count.

If doctors do it with life, the rest of us can surely do it with our own lesser problems. And we do.

That’s how Robert E. Lee chose to fight for the Confederacy. That’s how Steve Jobs chose to pull the plug on the iPad to focus no the iPod. That’s how I chose to give up Korean.

Decisions, the hard ones, never involve good and bad. It’s always bad and bad or good and good. Wisdom is sorting out priorities, making a choice, and then sticking to that decision through the nagging of secondary considerations, like war or freedom or friends out there dying.

Wisdom is letting other options die, triage.

“Be always sure you’re right – then go ahead.” -David Crockett