Sometimes, it's just a cigar

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Making choices

In the aftermath of the death of a man who re-defined leadership, it’s hard to remember that there was other news this week, but there was. Incidentally, if you haven’t read Jemima’s blog on this subject, of death, and the dying of the light, go and read it. This blog will still be here when you get back.

Anyway, choices.

This won’t go down in history as the week Tom Daley came out. Not that  as complete, or as binary a choice a some would have us believe. Tom apparently has had a girlfriend or two. So, famously, has Elton John. Elton had a wife, and a fiance who featured in the backstory of the melodramatic and beautiful ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight.’ Elton is now a dad, and proud of his partnership with his male partner. Tom Robinson, who wrote Glad To Be Gay, is now happily married with a family; back when he and Elton were writing songs together who could have predicted these outcomes?

The best thing about making choices, is being able to understand and explain them. A choice made without that ability to understand it and explain it is a trap for the unwary, waiting to trip you up with ropes made of regrets and post hoc rationalizations.

I don’t think that’s what’s happening to Tom Daley, or likely to happen to him. I have no way of knowing, of course, but I have no reason not to believe in the possibility that hope will win out.

I know only what I have to tell my family, that no choice is wrong, so long as it is well-made. So long as Tom’s choice is well made, what can any of us do except sit back and smile at the obvious pleasure of someone who feels the exhilaration of desire and pleasure?

Jemima wrote beautifully about the futile struggle against death, the only inevitability. Even at that end of life, there are choices made that we can only respect and love, so long as they are well-made. However, even in that formulation, there is a trap for the unwary.

I have no way of knowing if Tom Daley’s choices are well made. If I pick up the living will of someone I love, I have no way of knowing if their choices are well made. The fact that their choices are different to mine is not evidence that they have made their choices badly. Accidentally, we arrive at the third story that would have made any round up of the week.

John Hemmings has made himself the sole proprietor of a certain kind of parliamentary humbug, and the latest story about an Italian woman who was detained in hospital because of her mental illness, and who could not adequately consent to the necessary choices about the birth of her child, is a masterpiece of the Hemmings canon. The decision about whether she could make choices was not a moral one, but a medical one. Compare the degree of fuss Hemmings is making about her right to make choices, and his silence about the right to make choices of the sex workers being harassed and forced out of their workplaces in Soho this week; people can often give themselves away by the choices they support or refuse to acknowledge.

I choose to have the humility to let those who can make their choices do so – it is the mark of a mature democracy that it will make that principle a central plank of its law. Is that so complicated?

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This entry was posted on December 6, 2013 by in Uncategorized.

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