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November 24, 2006


Ophelia Benson

I think that last paragraph is crucial - especially since that's what we mostly don't do. Once we do make a choice, we tend to want to cheer ourselves up (in the sense Eliot meant of Othello cheering himself up with a bit of self-flattery just before he killed himself) by thinking of the choice as really, taking it all in all, quite good actually.

Then we get the status quo thing, the don't rock the boat thing, the 'that's just how it is so why waste your energy?' thing, and we get stuck with our least worst choices, when they might have been only provisional until something better became possible. We decorate the cell and then don't want to leave it.

Gail Renard


Ouch! A picky person could take the least worst option as a celebration or acceptance of mediocrity, which life must never be. Surely the least worst option is but a defeated hop, skip and jump away from a Catch 22 situation and/ or rationalisation. (Thinking From A to Z, 2nd edition.) You’re whipped before you’ve even started.

There are always options in life; the only real option is whether we make them or not (after first deciding whether the game is worth the candle.) When James T Kirk was but a cadet at the Starfleet Academy (just try and get one’s kids in there) he was presented with a no-win scenario as a test of character. The future Rear Admiral changed the situation by rewriting the computer’s programme, thus providing his own options. Had he not done so, Kirk might have remained but a midshipman and where would the Galaxy be then?

Motivated and resourceful people always have the choice of creating more options or rewriting the programme. In the case of education, instead of deciding between three mediocre schools, one can protest, plump for home schooling or, like Rudolph Steiner, start a new school. Utopia will only be built by those who don’t go gently into that good night. One must never accept limitations as a valid choice. And let us never forget the life-enhancing quality of the futile gesture; those defiant two fingers stuck up at life’s unacceptable alternatives.

So let’s rage against the least worst options with everything we’ve got. The least worst option is just a gift-wrapped, beribboned, Trojan-ed horse way of allowing mediocrity. If we recognise limitations as a society or individuals, it’s as good as saying, “Am I bovvered?”

Also please remember Sophie’s Choice did not make her happy; it led to her torment and death… now there’s another good movie ending I’ve ruined.

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