Sunday, June 12, 2005

If This- Then That!

If This- Then That!

Black/White, Yes/No, 1/0, Good/Bad, Lightness/Darkness, Right/Wrong, On/Off, If this- Then that!

What is it about human nature that wants to avoid absolutes? Why do we go so far out of our way to avoid them? When we are looking for something solid to hold on to - solid ground to stand upon, why do we always desire another option when the facts seem too harsh to accept?
Every day our lives are filled with choices. Some of those choices are between two polar opposites, while others seem to be choices between the lesser of two evils. It is interesting however that we all too often don’t like the absolute choice we are confronted with and instead of accepting the reality of a given situation, we struggle to find a choice “less confrontational” or less demanding.

May I suggest it’s sometimes because we don’t want to be thought of as the bad guy in a conflict? It’s hard to take a stand for something. You are putting your credibility on the line. People depend on you and you don’t wish to be found wrong. Our pride gets involved and before you know it, we are searching for an out - a way around a tough decision.

Immanuel Kant gave us an understanding of situational ethics - where we are confronted by certain situations that seem to have no absolute right way of dealing with a given problem. Kant himself is a study in opposites even if only you look at his name. Immanuel - which means “God with us” and Kant which has become synonymous with the belief you “Can’t know God as He (or It) is impersonal”. Even though Kant said he knew he couldn’t know, Kant - can’t know that without knowing he can‘t know. He wrestled with the fact that he believed God was unreachable, yet he had to reach God to know God is unreachable. It doesn’t take rocket science to understand Kant really couldn’t know without knowing, reach without reaching or speak without speaking.

In the latest and hopefully last episode of extra-planetary Buddhism, Obiwon Kenobe tells the young Jedi Knight Skywalker that “only the Sith believe in absolutes”. Does anyone see the problem with that statement? We are expected to believe there is a more enlightened path than absolutes. A less extreme choice, a choice of compromises and less demanding decisions that lead to harm to no one. Yet, when you think about it, the very statement that “only this is true” is an absolute statement. It is exclusive by its very nature. “Only the Sith believe in absolutes” is an absolute statement. Yet we as an audience are asked to just go along with the flow and not question this little insertion of fuzzy thinking. We are to let ourselves be taken up by the force and moved along to the mindset the authors of this space aged fantasy desire for us to adopt. Ultimately, when given the hard choice to kill once and for all his old friend Skywalker, Kenobe instead chooses to walk away and leave him for dead on the banks of a lava flow. The choice to end it now was too hard - too harsh - too much against the Jedi way. In fact, this choice was ultimately his undoing. Skywalker lives and becomes an even more powerful evil that wreaks havoc on all that follows.

What choices do you have to make today? Which ones will return some day to bite you? Which choice will carry with it a lifetime of results? Let me suggest the choice to avoid absolute choices will do more damage, will cause more confusion and will bring about more despair than if you just make the hard choice you know instinctively is the right choice. Your choices have consequences. Your choices today will affect you, your family and your business for many years to come.

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