The Choice is Yours

Voting MachineCoke or Pepsi?  Caf or Decaf?  Regular or diet?  Whole or skim?  Milk chocolate or dark?  Red or white?  White or wheat? Grilled or crispy?  Home style or spicy?  Hunan or Szechwan?  Paper or plastic?  Cash or credit?  Check out or continue shopping?  Coach or first class?  Smoking or non-smoking?  Pump or semi-auto?  Gun or cannoli?  Standard shipping or expedited?  Truth or consequences?  Would you like fries with that?  Democrat or Republican (or independent, TEA Party or Libertarian)?  Trick or treat?  Does that complete your order?

We spend a huge amount of our day making all sorts of choices; some important – some not.  Coke or Pepsi?  That’s an easy one; neither – I like my bones.  Smoking?  Only when I’m on fire.  Gun or cannoli?  Both.  Onion rings over fries if you’ve got ‘em.  Red or white – that depends; what’s for dinner?  Hunan or Szechwan?  Yes to both!  Paper or plastic – I brought my own bags.  And the most important ones – Caf, whole, lots of chocolate and add whipped cream please.

Some decisions are collective and some are solely ours to make.  Most of our choices are not life or death decisions.  However, with all the available options, even unimportant choices can leave us feeling paralyzed.  Many philosophers recognized this dilemma and tried to argue their angles.  For example, Aristotle wrote in his 350 BC treatise “On the Heavens” that a man being just as thirsty as he was hungry, and placed between food and drink, would not be able to move toward one over the other and would starve to death.  The 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan revisited this concept when he wrote about choices and determinism.

This is where we get the term “Buridan’s Ass”.  Buridan’s writings were satirized with the image of a donkey that stands between two identical piles of food, cannot decide between the two, and starves to death.  I have to admit, I’ve been known to shop for an item and, after much mulling in my mind, walk away without making a purchase because I wasn’t comfortable with my knowledge about the choices – my Buridan moment.  But, I still made a choice because not choosing is one of three possible choices.  Some believe that’s the best choice when faced with only unclear choices – or worse – choosing between the lesser of two evils.

What if the decision is important and not choosing is not an option?  What if your opportunity to make a choice cost you something; like a non-refundable deposit for example?  Would you still be likely not to choose and just walk away, especially if you felt under-informed and therefore possibly incapable of making the choice that would be best for you?  What if you felt your choice wouldn’t get you what you chose, but rather what someone else chose for you?  Now, what if the cost of your opportunity to choose had been paid for by someone else; possibly even by a close relative?  What if that relative paid for your opportunity with their life?  By now you’ve probably figured out I’m talking about voting.  This article will hit the streets on election-day 2014.  Aside from running for public office, the next best way to affect change in government is to vote.  A single vote has determined the outcome of an election more than once.  Your vote can be that vote.  You can make excuses or you can make a statement and possibly change history.  The choice is yours.

© 2014 Curt Savage Media                                                      

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