David Clarke makes “a bad choice”

A photograph taken of Health Minister David Clark's van at the carpark of a Dunedin mountain bike park, on Thursday April 2, a week into a full scale lockdown of New Zealand.

A photograph taken of Health Minister David Clark’s van at the carpark of a Dunedin mountain bike park, on Thursday April 2, a week into a full scale lockdown of New Zealand.

The day after David Clark made his bad choice, I was reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. This is the psychological memoir written in 1946 about what the experience of concentration camps taught him about the primary purpose of life: the search for meaning.

He has a famous quote about choice:

Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate”.

David made a bad choice, which threatened for one moment to render meaningless the sacrifice made by us all. This made me think more about what I mean by sacrifice in this case. According to logotherapy, Frankl’s approach to therapy, it is said that we can discover meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.

This Lockdown produces a peculiar kind of suffering or ascetism in terms of freedom. On one hand it has been imposed – and the imposition instantly makes us remember the dangers of facism that led to concentration camps. But of course, this suffering is not unavoidable, which is exactly what David Clark reminded us of. We are all staying put – but we could leave and go for a swim or cycle at any time. What is stopping us?

I think that what stops us is the choice we are making that values the vulnerable among us. I saw my old friend Ruth (at a distance) yesterday – and it is good to remember how precious our old ones are to us. And in doing so, to know that we are making other choices. We are choosing to finally slow down (Greta – you have got your way); and we are choosing to care for each other and to choose new ways of approaching life.

So David made a bad choice….but there’s always the capacity to make another kind of choice. And this capacity is described beautifully by “the choice point” by Russ Harris in his book “ACT made simple”. I have made a little video here to describe what is meant by this choice point.

“The Bare Bones Choice Point”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *