Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Hobson's Choice

My pet peeve is the utterance of the phrase “I had no choice.” I hate that. It’s both pathetic and inaccurate. Whether you know it or not, you always have a choice, even if all of them suck.

Example A:
A man holds you at gunpoint unless you reveal the whereabouts of the Super Friends. You have a choice. You can not tell him and risk him shooting you, or you can tell him the secret location, thus sentencing the Super Friends to a certain doom. These are both choices. (Carmi would call this Hobson’s Choice). There are more choices too. You could make up a false, but believable lie. You could try to start a psychoanalysis session with him to find out why he is so focused on death and destruction. You could pretend to faint. And so on and so on.

Example B:
You’ve fallen into a rapidly moving river and are rushing towards a perilous fall. You have a choice. You can accept your fate, or you can flail around and look for a route to escape. And even within these two choices there are more choices. If you accept your fate, then you can a) sing show tunes at the top of your lungs until you plunge over the edge, b) ponder all of your loved ones until you make the fall, c) attempt to drown yourself before you reach the edge.

“Trill,” you ask, “What the hell is your point?”

“First of all,” I reply, “Don’t call me Trill. It’s Trillian. Second, I’m just sick to death of the complete lack of accountability that seems to be the trademark of today’s society.”

Truly, the vast majority of people seem to think that their fate is controlled by some external and nebulous “they”, when in actual fact, we have choices, and are responsible for our own fate. We get the chance every second of every day to improve our lot. Certainly we can’t control all aspects of our life, but the choices we make with the cards we are dealt is the difference between the “done to” and the “doers”.

End of rant.


At 2:12 PM, Blogger cleolove said...


We are responsible for our lives, fully, compltely, totally. We always have a choice on how we act, no matter what is done to us.

Excellent post, thanks.

At 2:24 PM, Blogger withknivesout said...

Right on. Personal responsibility is quickly going the way of the triceritops and the dodo. Too often the cop out of "no choice" is being thrown around to protect one's image or reputation when being honest and straightforward would be the best call. This all hinges on the existential arguement that responsibility belongs wholly to you, and no one else. You make your decisions and are the only one responsible for them and their effects.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Carmi said...

I fully concur. And I would be totally willing to take a stand on it, but I'm waiting for my government check to arrive. And if it doesn't get here before the beer store sells out its inventory, I'll blame the stupid union rules that prevent the posties from getting it to my mailbox. Or the ridiculous municipal bylaws that mandate how newer development have to have those super mailboxes way down the block. What if my legs get tired on the way to the box? What if, in trekking down the street I miss the first few minutes of Oprah? All these people make my life miserable. Darn them. My fingers are tired. Time for a nap.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Oz said...

I think, "I had no choice," almost always translates into, "I had no good choices." In fact, I'd wager to bet that most of the time, the words, "I had no choice" are usually followed by the words, "I mean, I could either do X or Y," and it is self-evident that neither of those choices are good. For instance, "I had no choice but to reveal the secret location of the Super Friends. I mean, I could either tell them or they would shoot me!"

At 6:04 PM, Blogger Kate said...

That comes up a lot at school too.
Of course, the kids' stand-bys are still,
"She made me do it."
"I couldn't help it."
and my favorite,
"But he did it first!"
It's too bad we can't substitute those phrases into the adults sentences when they try to avoid responsibility. They might realize how ridiculous they sound.

At 8:24 PM, Blogger Trillian said...

Cleolove - thanks. I checked out your site and it's pretty cool.

withknivesout - I agree.

Carmi - thank's bud.

Ozzilyn - yeah, I know that's what people mean, it's Hobson's Choice. But it's still a cop out, in my opinion.

Chellee - lol. It's soo true. When our kids start saying stupid things like that, Arthur and I pretend we're them and repeat all the stupid remarks. It makes them laugh, and hopefully think!

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Rich Rosenthal II said...

Shhh don't talk about "them." They can hear you thinking. They know where your eyes are going before you do. Invest in aluminum hats!

Hmm dont pull off the crazy paranoid very well do I. I'm more of a the man is trying to keep me down paranoid. Or a "when the revolution comes" weirdo.

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

Best. Post. Ever. I almost choked on my water because I was picturing someone falling down a waterfall singing "Oklahoma."

At 10:16 AM, Blogger Trillian said...

Rich: It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you!

Jennie: Thanks. I didn't mean to choke you, but luckily you know CPR (of course, it's not helpful if it's you choking...).


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