The author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables, Victor Hugo once stated, “Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.” If we consider Caution to be a warning against danger or evil, then Hugo’s statement takes on considerable importance. Caution begins to shoulder something more than “street smarts” or “gut feeling.” It assumes the pretext of practical consideration. It casts off the charade of impulse and whim, assuming increased weight and contemplation.
It seems in today’s fast paced, frenetic, time is money mode of operation that Caution would appear quaint, like the wearing of a pocket watch for men or a Victorian lace collared blouse for women. It might be practical, but it isn’t something cutting edge metropolitans would ever be caught dead doing. Business is all about moving forward. If you aren’t growing, you are dying. Speed is of the essence. Caution has been left in the dust.
Maybe when considering love Caution tends to be thought of as more relevant. Rarely do we hear the call for a relationship to move faster. It is here Caution is thought to be…well almost a virtue. “Go slow.” “Give this some time.”, we are encouraged. Suddenly Caution is our friend. It will protect us from rash and hasty actions, which we might learn to regret in the future.
Caution’s value skyrockets when we have children. Every child hears, “Slow down there.” and is asked “What is the big hurry?” When we kiss them good night, pull the covers up around their little faces, and creep toward the door, the prayer on every parents heart is, “Please God, let them grow up slowly.” Caution is our watch word when we take them to the park, or to the mall, or to school, or on a date, or watch them play sports.
As I look around our world I wish we would exercise more caution. Caution: in how we operate our vehicles on the interstates, how we enter into romantic relationships, how we think, how we talk to our spouses, how we interact with our neighbors, how we conduct our business, how we choose our beliefs, how we rule our nation, how we decide to use our military, how we live our lives.
I understand too much caution and we become immobile. We can’t reach a decision. We become the proverbial deer in the headlights. We need to swing through the trees, holding on to the branches, and howling loudly, but let’s make sure we don’t turn loose of one branch until we have a firm grip on the next.