Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Resistance, Submission, and the Third Alternative

     Once upon a time, when I was reading a great deal of military history (and specialized history of World War II in particular), I read a book on famous prison escapes.  These were stories of actual escapes from high security prisons, including military prisons.

     In that very well-researched and well-written book, one thought particularly captured my attention, and has stuck in my memory for a long time:   the author commented that certain methods of escape would not be covered in the book.

     Would not be covered -- why?  Well, he wouldn't exactly say.  He hinted that these were ideas that might naturally occur to prisoners, perhaps only after considerable time in incarceration.  These ways and means might not be widely known among prison guards.  If the guards did know, they might be, well, on their guard.  So, taking the side of any future prisoners to whom the ideas would occur,  the author refused to expose these methods -- thereby keeping it unlikely that some prison-industrial complex would thwart them.

     I rather liked the whole idea, whatever it is.  I still do.

     There is another idea that I like, by no means original to me.  It is variously known as "Sullivan's Law" and "an old Jewish saying."  (That sounds mutually exclusive to me, but maybe not:  in the spirit of the "law" itself,  I'll call it "unattributed.")  The idea can be simply stated:

     When faced with two alternatives, choose the third.

     Like it?  I've found it very useful, myself:  in career choices, in conversations, in ordinary  thinking.  Maybe you have consciously done the very same thing:  when facing two alternative viewpoints, develop a new one.  Can't decide whether to eat at the Thai restaurant, or stay home and watch a new movie?  Go ride a motorcycle.  Don't know whether to support Candidate A or Party B?  Go start a project with Non-political S.  Sometimes, these two-way choices are nothing more than imposed, or self-imposed, distractions. 

     Let's see:  Republican or Democrat?  Capitalist or Communist?  Liberal or Conservative?  Gold Standard or Fiat Money?  Rational or Irrational?  One or Zero?   Can you think of third, or even fourth, alternatives to any or all of these binary choices?  Good.

     We live in interesting times.  Some of us feel very aware of an imposing, encroaching New World Order.  (Many others have no such awareness.  Or have a different awareness.  Or call the feeling by another name.)

     What to do?  Submit, or Resist?

     Good question.  Important question.  But may I also propose: Seriously consider the Third Alternative.  Is there a fresh approach; or even a -- ?  Ah.

     And while we're on that subject, seriously consider this also:  Let us not much discuss it.  Properly sought after, a third alternative will occur to us -- as certain modes of thought, and certain modes of operation, ought to be reserved to the prisoners who need them and desire them.

     You know what I mean:  it's called "need to know."  That sort of thing.

     Blessings to you.


  1. I see 2 choices in everything media pans out to us, especially things in talk radio, where you are encouraged to call in and express your opinion: A or B. Or online newspaper polls, A or B. Or talent shows like American Idol, vote for your favorite, A or B. And of course in politics. We are given the 2 choices and then urged to choose, so it gives us the feeling of choice and control.

    It's the urging to take a side that bothers me. You must instantly make a choice before you are even allowed the facts. Like when Osama was taken by the Seals, do you credit Obama or give glory to the Seals, or, wait a minute, wasn't he already proclaimed dead years ago? Or with this recent soldier killing 16 (or 17? which is it?) civilians, is the soldier to blame or was it PSTD (or wait, was he a scape goat for a botched raid?) Same with Columbine, 9-11, Kennedy, etc, etc.

  2. I'll never forget your mini-sermons on this topic back in Trig class.