That Which Is UnseenAug 29, 2011
There is a well-known parable by Frédéric Bastiat – a classical theorist and political economist. It reads “Ce qu’on voit et ce qu’on ne voit pas” meaning “that which is seen, and that which is unseen”. You can read the parable and the essay that contains it in WikiSource. Quickly, the parable goes like this – a shopkeeper’s careless son breaks a window, and the spectators look at that incident from various perspectives. Now that the window is broken, it should be fixed, and that initiates a flow of money - a glazier fixes the glass, and spends the money earned at the shoemaker and so on. It is better that the money flows, than remain in a safe. That which is seen! But if the glass had not been broken, shopkeeper might have gotten a new coat for himself, or some jewelry for his wife, or even a bicycle for his careless son - a potential flow of money, now made impossible by the broken window. That which is unseen!
Lately, I have been quite influenced by this parable. Every event in our lives, every decision we make has an unseen part, very likely. While the unseen part remain unseen, unknown, unfathomable, it definitely has an effect on the seen aspects. Without understanding or thinking about the possible unseen aspects, the seen effects, things or activities may not fully represent the fact. It adds a few questions to every decision, which is good - a few considerations, some tests, or a validation that makes the decision more acceptable and mature.