In modern society, where the rhythm of life is so fast, it is popular to think after acting, not before it. Reflection, by all means, is a positive quality, but its effectiveness can only be estimated in a specific situation. Fixation of thoughts on a problem can have both beneficial and problematic sides. For example, in Andrew Marvell’s poem “To His Coy Mistress” author states that it is not right to try to counteract one’s thoughts, but to act without a reflection, following one’s wishes. Then, in Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist’s article “On Thinking Things Over: A Paradox” author also claims that actions should precede thoughts. Finally, Ronny Yu in his film Huo Yuanjia the director expresses the idea that people who tend to reflect about their past evaluate themselves with the help of Wushu. The three examples state the same idea: people should act before reflecting, as this is the first stream, a discovery that reveals people the way they are. I strongly agree with von Kleist’s argument that thinking after action is more appropriate than before it. I will support my opinion using the three above-mentioned cases.
Firstly, long thinking before acting might be unnecessary, and even ruing the action itself
Thus, from Andrew Marvell’s example, it is clear that thinking before action induces people to act in the way, when the spontaneity of acting is lost; though still, people might feel certain success after acting. Thus, the protagonist of this poem uses this idea to convince his lover not to resist temptation and fall into passion. Therefore, he tries to induce a lady to engage in a sexual relationship with him highlighting that her action would not be a crime at all. In this case, the man uses quite unfair and even indecent strategies to fulfill his desires. Despite the fact that Kleist considers that action should precede thinking, he states that action has a specific meaning, which is more significant than thinking itself. For example, in giving advice to his son, the author points out that “a military man has to be quick and fearless; his actions have no time to be advised” (Miller, 217). The strictness and definiteness of the author might be explained by the German origin with the characteristic precision, paying attention to details, and importance of being on time in any situation. The author also claims that people realize their actions right at the moment of making a decision about it, or a little earlier. At the same time, if reflection becomes a long process, a person’s mind becomes confused, and such a process might never end in an action itself. Unlike other representatives of fauna, human beings are endowed with thinking ability that should be used for problem-solving activities. However, this might be effective only on condition that there is not a long time between reflection and acting. Otherwise, one risks wasting time on unnecessary thinking and even change the original decision made.
Secondly, reflection and analysis after the action is made allows seeing the weak points of an action and correcting them in the future. In addition to the above mentioned, Kleist would argue that only by acting before thinking people can see drawbacks of their actions. Though, it is desirable to see and analyze the results of an action after it was made by means of reflection. Such a reflection and evaluation of the results of actions help a person to realize the strong and weak sides of an action, and probably, avoid the negative behavior with its mistakes, and promote the positive one with its best qualities. The opposite opinion is defended by Marvell: unlike common belief that people act after thinking, he counteracts this supposition by stating that this is merely a cause and effect confusion made by the brain. In his turn, Kleist asserts that life is like a struggle with destiny that justifies all the techniques that exist for fight. For example, he argues that there is a principle “according to which man should act first as a fighter does in a battle, and reflects in retrospect” (Miller 217). I think Kleist meant a situation in which sportsmen often appear: when there is very little time for thinking, but quick reaction is appropriate, and even desirable to win.
Thirdly, thinking after acting is the only way to realize one’s desires. In Marvell’s poem reflection about action is also considered when the story-teller refers to “Times winged Chariot hurrying near; / And yonder all before us lie / Deserts of vast eternity” (22-24). Further, the poem’s narration continues from the opposite side, when the protagonist does not do his best to seduce the mistress, and even tries to push her off. As a result, she is induced to act immorally because of this supposition that acting has to be first. In my opinion, thinking before acting in similar situations is crucial, as it may prevent people from doing what they do not want to do. Though, the outcome of this situation is quite unexpected: the protagonist suddenly refuses his initial desires and now, does not want to have physical love with the woman. He justifies his refusal by stating that it is impossible to save love in such a way and suggests forgetting about their feelings. This action adds to the author’s main idea of the poem: to emphasize thinking before acting as a key realization of desires. The narrator acts as a person who thinks after doing, and makes the lady thinking so too, despite her initial predisposition to thinking before acting.
Finally, reflection after action helps avoid conflict between people and the world, people and themselves. In the movie Huo Yuanjia by Ronny Yu there is an example of acting before reflecting, when people stream to find drawbacks in reality. This aspect is shown by Huo’s realization of the true origin of action in the human heart. To exemplify, in the film there is a phrase that “Seedings are alive. If you plant them too close, they will not grow. Just like people, they need to respect each other in order to live together peacefully” (Huo Yuanjia). This phrase is pronounced by a blind girl, Moon, who knows that truth is in her heart. She believes that such details of daily life help people understand why and how to life in peace with each other. To oppose, Huo’s reality is different, he sees peoples’ appearances and tends to miss a lot of details in his life. His philosophy is Wushu with its principle that the best outcome is not the winning, but in the struggle. Stating one’s power through physical force is asylum for the weak. Furthermore, in the director’s point of view, Wushu asserts the main idea that the strongest enemy that one can have is he himself. In his opinion, reflection helps people to realize their mistakes and avoid them in the future. It coincides with the other principle of Wushu: avoiding conflict and streaming for constant perfection.
To conclude, as an international student I agree with Kleist that “marvelous words about human life that it is a competition with fate” (Miller 217). Moreover, life is also a struggle with oneself. Studying reflection helped me realize this important thing. In addition, it is impossible to study a foreign country with its differences in culture, traditions etc. if one does not have enough courage. I can assure that my decision to come to the USA was a result of a long process of thinking. Of course, as in any fight, struggle with destiny involves risks, but I am ready for these risks for the sake of my happiness. Following the typical tendency of modern community to act before thinking, I still prefer to evaluate advantages and disadvantages of such behavior. Thus, I think it is the right choice to live a full life and fight with fate and consequently, act spontaneously and reflect after it.