And Then What?
By Pastor George Van Alstine
When I was a young man, I came up with a way to help clarify the moral issues I was facing. I called it the “And-Then-What?” test. When I felt tempted to do something that seemed a bit on the edge, I tried to discipline myself to think about the attractive results of my proposed action, but also to ask, “And then what?” That kept me from doing some things that may have taken my life in a different direction.
In later years, I’ve come to realize that I was really learning to think about the consequences of my actions. It turns out that this was really a pretty healthy approach to life, but I was just thinking of it as a survival technique. I didn’t want to get hurt.
Recently, I became curious about whether anyone else had ever come up with my strategy. I did a web search on “And-Then-What?” and found out that this was the title of a 2005 song by rapper Young Jeezy (whose real name is Jay Wayne Jenkins). I immediately went to the lyrics of the song, thinking I may have found a kindred soul. Silly me.
Young Jeezy had approached life’s moral challenges in a much different way. In the song, he boasted about the easy riches he was accumulating (possibly through drug sales): “First I’m going to stack my flow” (count my money). His backup singers responded, “And then what?” He answered, “Then I’m going to stack some more.” Response: “And then what?” ”Hide the rest of the yams (kilos of drugs) at my auntie house.” “And then what?” The song goes on to describe the high life of fast cars and easy women. Each time the backup singers say “And then what?” There’s always more.
Young Jeezy was singing a song of boasting triumph:
“I’m so cool but I’m so hot and I’m so fly and you is not”
“Some say I lucked up I call it perfect timing”
“It ought to be a crime just to feel this good”
I find myself empathizing with some of this, as I realize Jay came up from a very poor beginning in an Atlanta ghetto.
I don’t know much about Young Jeezy’s later life. I know he’s had some drug and DUI issues, but he’s apparently doing OK for a kid from inner-city Atlanta. His “And-Then-What?” is apparently working out pretty well for him.
Mine is doing OK as well. I may have missed out on a few of the highs Jeezy has experienced, but I’ve also avoided some downers he’s had to deal with. All in all, I feel good about the decision I made many years ago, to err on the cautious side by asking “And then what?” I hope Young Jeezy emerges from his “And-Then-What?” to a spiritual hunger for God, who is the ultimate “AND THEN WHAT!”
I hope to talk this over with Jay in heaven.