WHEN GIVEN TWO CHOICES, I ALWAYS GO FOR THE THIRD. I doubt that I’m the first to say that, nor do I want to suggest that other people haven’t been pondering the consequences of our dichotomous thinking in the US: like-dislike, friend-unfriend, win-lose, us-them, right-wrong, prochoice-prolife, Republican-Democrat, and now social distancing-opening up the economy. We set up our communication software, social media, political parties, political surveys, and sound bites to force choices or, more to the point, deny choice. Just today I received a survey that asked if I supported the president. My choices were yes or no, lock him up. No place for comment, no place for nuance, no place for a reasoned answer. I either had to support the president, or support putting him in prison! What does that even mean? I’m sure the “other side” sends out surveys just as meaningless about Joe Biden.
As the world becomes more frightening with the current pandemic, more complex, and unable to be controlled, people appear to be more willing to give up choice. We take solace in giving up free will and the responsibility that free will entails right at the exact time when nuance and critical thinking are most essential. Debate has given way to “doubling-down,” and hyperbole and falsehoods have replaced measured thinking and facts.
I get it. It’s an alarming time, and we are scared. But are we to be lemmings, led off the cliff in some unfounded hope that we will land in a better place, or will we take back our voices and our choices?
By the way, I am social distancing and pro opening up. They are not mutually exclusive.