Despite the continued efforts of politicians, journalists and many who set themselves up as experts on this or that, things are rarely either/or. Each day we are presented with oven-ready information that is easy to consume because of the way we are fed it.
Categorising and packaging ideas so that they nudge us towards a ‘simple’ choice satisfies our need for order and simplicity. It is a habit which ignores both complexity and alternatives, preferring unity to diversity. It is comfortable because it reduces the need to think about things, suspending judgement in the process. As children we hated it when our parents said “wait and see”, and as adults we don’t have to; as grown-ups we can make up our own minds.
There are times when decisiveness – the sort we see modelled in reality TV and by politicians – is a genuine asset. Real leaders, after all, know their own minds and don’t hang about getting where they are going. In our own lives we make thousands of decisions daily, too much deliberation is not only inconvenient, it can become neurotic; a pain to ourselves and frustrating to those around us.
Even when making decisions we fall again into the same trap. Deciding on a course of action does not have to be reduced to “act/don’t act”, the range of options could also include, for example “decide later when I’ve got comfortable with a period of not-knowing”, or telling ourselves and others “I don’t know” and being OK with that.
Even in writing this post I am finding that things are getting complicated. I was hoping to write a pithy and tidy few paragraphs and wind up with a snappy conclusion. Ah well, time to practice what I preach!