Saturday, August 21, 2010

Why there is no such thing as black and white decision making

If you have read any of my past posts you will understand that I don't like dogma, demigods, ideology, or pat answers to complex situations.  I heard this on NPR the other day and it got me to thinking.....

Interestingly the first thing that came to my head was Joni  Mitchell's song "Both Sides Now" mainly for the lyric:
I've looked at clouds from both sides now, From up and down, and still somehow, It's cloud illusions I recall, I really don't know clouds at all
Now the song is really not about what I was thinking about, but that line of looking at something from both sides is what I fixated on.  It's never as easy as black and white as some people insist it should be. What's interesting is how opinions change when it directly confronts them.  Hypocrisy is what most people would call it.  But it's a bigger dynamic than that I am coming to understand.

"Compartmentalization" is what I heard someone on NPR call it in reference to how Thomas Jefferson could write about liberty, equality, and rights all at the same time keeping slaves and never addressing the contradiction.  The ability to keep two diametrically opposed thoughts in play - holding them both equal - is a phenomenon that escapes me.

So anytime an example of a situation illustrating the point that both sides need to be addressed...that you need to see it form the other's vantage point.....that it is important to walk a mile in someone else's' shoes..... is important when you vote for something or choose a side to stand on.  One needs to see the clouds from both sides.

The compensation that will be given to those who helped BP in the cleanup effort. The oil company asked many boat owners to assist, and they were paid, often handsomely.  From the NPR story on BP's compensation fund:
Feinberg (the guy now responsible for doling out the money for BP)  intends to deduct that money from their compensation package. He contends that although they couldn't do their regular job, they were paid.
Mr. FEINBERG: It seems to me eminently fair, and I think that's what any court would do.
KAUFMAN (NPR Reporter): Perhaps, but boat owner Kimberly Chauvin said later that Feinberg's approach means that she and others did BP's dirty cleanup work for free.
Ms. CHAUVIN: You have no clue as to what we did, and then you're going to act like we should just be grateful for what we got. Are you kidding me?
KAUFMAN: She says she could have stayed home and gotten the same amount of money.
So which one is right?  They both are, which is impossible.  So therein lies the the difficulty in making a sound and reasoned decision.  If compensation for lost revenue is all you look at then Feinberg's position is valid.  But on the other side of the cloud is that if those participated in the cleanup have that amount deducted then they did, as Ms. Chauvin states, did "BP's dirty cleanup work for free."

It's a cloudy situation alright - but one thing is for sure, how it is to be rectified will not be black and white. 

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