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  • Reverend James Squire

The Man In The Red Bandana

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

We studied choices in my Ethics course which I taught to thousands of high school students over a period of 38 years. Ethics is about choices and the life events and people that shape our choices. Ethics is about choiceless choices as well, choices that we would not want to make, but we feel that is the only way forward. Ethics is about hard choices!

I became friends with Dr. Chaim Potok, Jewish author, who is best known for his novel, “The Chosen”. He was an academic, and in his culture, it was understood that he should write academic works. His novel, “The Chosen”, sold 650,000 copies. He went against his culture and family to become a writer of fiction that contained stories of hard choices that people feel compelled to make. One day when we were talking, I asked him where he got the courage to go against the pressure of his culture to become a novelist. He smiled and said, “I wish I had a choice. I had to do it.”

Courage is at the heart of choiceless choices. When I talked recently with someone battling cancer, I commented that I admired his courageous battle against this disease. He said, “I wish I had a choice.” Tough chemo and surgery were required to battle his disease. Courage was present there.

Choices can overwhelm. Barry Schwartz wrote “The Paradox of Choice” indicating that we have too many choices. There used to be only one brand of ketchup, now there are many. Students choosing a college are sometimes overwhelmed by the number of options they have.

I believe that choices are shaped by different forces throughout our lives. I often indicated to my ethics class that their choices were being shaped right in the present. If you cheat as a high school student you will more than likely cheat as a way of life. I have seen over and over again where the seeds of courage inform someone’s life choices. The important thing to remember is that we are all capable of a courageous act at any time in our life.

The ultimate act of courage is to save the life of another. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than for someone to lay down one’s life for his friends.” My ethics students have informed me that a video I showed in class remained a source of inspiration for them. Watch it and you will see a sample of the origins of a courageous choice. My students would tell me that when they had to make a tough choice later in life, they thought of the video below. “The Red Bandana” comes with the WARNING THAT YOU SHOULDN’T WATCH IT IF YOU WANT AN EASY WAY OUT IN LIFE. WHEN FACED WITH A DIFFICULT DECISION IN LIFE, THIS VIDEO WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TAKE THE HARD RIGHT AND NOT TO THE EASY WRONG. THIS MAY HELP YOU CHOOSE THE COURAGEOUS WAY.

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