Why there are no “good” choices?


Recently in a radio news clip, the journalist was explaining the state of affairs in our economy. In the end, the reporter concluded by saying, there are “no real good choices”. This comment left me thinking: Why there are no good choices?

US economy is a rather broad and complex subject. One can relate to the complexity involved in making choices pertaining to US economy. It is like steering a big ship! But, how about so many other things we face in life. Simple things like, should I buy a house, sell a house, continue in my current job, relocate to another place to live, …..? We find ourselves in a situation of “no good choices” in many of this seemingly not so difficult matters! So, it would appear that reflecting on choices and how they are made appears to be more than an academic curiosity!

            In any decision making process, we reflect, analyze the data or observations on hand and come to a conclusion. Such conclusion in effect is the choice we make on the subject matter on hand. Such conclusion may lead to a specific action step. We could decide to defer or postpone an intended action. One could remain uncertain of the direction to proceed forward and hence decide to gather more data or observations or decide to pursue further analysis.  We observe, gather data, analyze, conclude, leading to further action or choices leading to further data or observations ……. life goes on ……..

At this point, at least one thing is clear: Our choices are determined by our conclusions, preceded by our analysis or reasoning, which rely on the data or observations presented for such analysis! So, when we say “we have no good choices”, we have to acknowledge that the quality (good or bad) of our choices depends strongly on the quality of our analysis, and the data or observations available for such analysis. This process of engaging in any activity is complex indeed!

If we think about it carefully, first we can ask the question, what is the playing field or the scope or the subject matter pertaining to which we are we required to make the choices? Too often we may be engaged in decision making when we don’t even know purpose or the playing field? This is frequently stated as “You can’t get there, unless you know for sure, where you want to go?”

The choice also depends on the person, who is making the choices? Are you responsible for making the choices or you are merely a means or tool in the decision making process? We are all decision makers in our own right. But, larger and more complex the problem, the clarity on who is the decision maker or the process or hierarchy of decision making is often not so clear. Who makes the decisions on the US economy?

Tools or means enable the decision making process. They facilitate the analysis and choices. Frequently, we get worked up, when we are personally engaged and committed in the process, and we tend to forget that we are merely agents, tools or the means in the data gathering or analysis towards the decision making process. This detached outlook on our role, brings a lot of clarity on the role/functions of the tools at our disposal and their effectiveness.

After all these are understood, there is an intangible and yet permanent, eternal aspect to all our activities. No matter what we choose to do or however much we wish it would be otherwise, it is impossible to violate the laws of nature! These are the intangible and yet permanent aspect of any and all aspects of our life. The entire purpose of education in any field is intended to fathom the mysteries of the laws of nature in that field! There are limits to our understanding of the laws of nature in every field. There are times when things happen, certainly influenced by the laws of nature, but we can not comprehend or relate to them, we find it easier to accept them as influenced by a power larger than we can comprehend. Theologians would describe this as the “divine influence”.

Hence in any choice or in any decision making process there are five components involved as described above: The subject matter, the decision maker, tools or means,  role or function of these tools and the laws of nature or divine influence.  Greater our clarity in our understanding of these five components and their role in the choices being made, the alternatives become more comprehensible. The choice based on such objective reasoning is neither good nor bad, but merely appropriate under a given set of circumstances offered by these five aspects or components for decision making.

In the scriptures of analysis, it is stated that there are five aspects necessary for the culmination of any activity: the field of activity; the person or agent responsible for the activity; the means or tools available  for such activity; the effects, role or  functions of the tools and the laws of nature or the divine influence .

Whatever activity  a person carries out, these are the five aspects or considerations behind all such activities. This being the case, any person who believes – due to his/her limited reasoning – that he/she is solely responsible for that activity does not see the full picture. – Bhagawath Geetha, Chapter18. – 13, 14, 15, 16.

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2 Responses to Why there are no “good” choices?

  1. krishnan says:

    Your “…. engaging in any activity is complex indeed!” made me smile. Whoever coined “just do it” for Nike must have considered the human suffering that is caused by observation and analysis.

  2. Ram says:

    Interesting perspectives. Thanks for the posting. “Choice” is an actively researched topic (by psychologists, cognitive scientists) and has lot of implications on all walks of our life. I recently bought an interesting book on this subject by Sheena S. Iyengar, professor at Columbia university. One of the themes in her book is that – having too many choices, like we often do, is stressful and it is sometimes easier to let go the options than trying to “control ” everything happening around us by “trying to choose”.
    Our choices are limited by our own myopic notions of this world that are based on our upbringing, culture, readings, and past experiences. We can seldom interpret data or make decisions outside of this framework that we have boxed ourselves in. If we realize this limitation, we won’t be perturbed by the activities that result from our choices. Of course, this is easier than done…

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