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Friday, 8 July 2016

The lesser of two evils

Last May 2016, Bernie Sanders compared the choice between Clinton and Trump as one between the lesser of two evils (eg, Politico). This valid comment raises some obvious questions like 1) how did we end up in this mess, and 2) how do we get out of it. Somehow I think, feel and believe that this choice between the lesser of two evils is not accidental. It might even be a force of nature.

In the past, I have often said that the lower a person’s specific gravity (NL: soortelijk gewicht), the quicker (s)he will float to the top. It was my bitter comment on certain promotions. I feel that we tend to make the easy choices and postpone the difficult ones in our lives. Ultimately, easy choices are no longer available and tough ones must be made. Perhaps a choice between the lesser of two evils is thus inevitable.

Somehow I sympathise with the label Crooked Hillary as Donald Trump indeed has a valid point. On the other hand, I'm not sure if there is any label – or even enough labels – to describe Donald Trump. Yes indeed it's a choice between the lesser of two evils. However, it's also a choice between evil and Evil. I leave it to my readers to decide on the appropriate name.

By definition, the choice between the lesser of two evils is based on moral judgment. The outcome is an opinion rooted in a Belief system rather than a fact originating from Knowledge. Also see my 31 March 2016 blog: Why are opinions stronger than facts?

A current Dutch example of the lesser of two evils is the moral discussion on the default medical offer of a voluntary Down syndrome test for all pregnant women. Only 2 small Christian political parties (representing 5.3%) are against this offer. They fear that Down syndrome children will become extinct as pregnancies may get aborted when parents will learn about the outcome after a so called NIP-Test.

Even euthanasia is ultimately a choice between the lesser of two evils: death OR living with chronic barbaric pain and the loss of human dignity (also see my 4 June 2016 blog). There are no wrong answers in that moral choice. I fully respect my girlfriend’s choice (see my June 27 blog). I'm not sure if I could have made that decision for her, or on behalf of her.

In due time, I may also face a choice between the lesser of two evils. I have finally come to the conclusion that both options are "evil". For some time, I delayed making choices for good reasons. Subsequently, I have been postponing for the wrong reasons (eg, convenience). I have come to realise that my ostrich attitude wasn't very helpful. Accepting change is difficult. A willingness to change is sometimes even harder. Also see my 2015 and 216 blogs on the promise and fear of change (part 1part 2 and part 3) and my 2016 blogs on Change (part 1, part 2).

A choice between the lesser of two evils might well be entirely self inflicted. Easy choices are popular choices. Delaying difficult choices (eg, procrastination) is most likely a default human habit. I suppose we fear difficult choices and hope that they just evaporate in thin air, or that others will make them for us. We like to keep our options open as long as possible.

In business we learn early that all (contractual) options come at a prize. In private life that realisation often comes late and sometimes even too late.

Lisa Stansfield - Change (1991) - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

If I could change the way I live my life today
I wouldn't change a single thing

Believing is the answer, the answer to all your fears

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