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DILEMMA Part 1: Between a Rock & A Hard Place

“A dilemma is a problem offering two unrelated possibilities, neither of which is unambiguously acceptable or preferable.” Webster

In a class at Iliff School of Theology our class was given a problem to discuss titled Heinrich’s Dilemma. Heinrich’s wife was dying of cancer. The pharmacist in their town had a new drug that might cure her, but Heinrich was too poor and couldn’t afford to purchase it. The pharmacist was not able to help. Heinrich stole the medicine. We were asked if he had done the right thing and to choose “yes” or “no”. One participant refused to make that decision and didn’t participate in the discussion. She wanted to discuss the ramifications of the situation before deciding. I would like to have done that too; it was difficult to choose. Even after discussing the problem the decision wasn’t any easier.

We are taught to obey the law. After all, legal structure separates us from anarchy and chaos. We are dependent on laws. We are also taught to have compassion: “a feeling of deep sympathy for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering”. Strong, compelling feelings in both instances.

Constantly we get dragged into dilemmas that often are determined by a time and place factor. Somehow in our diverse culture we learn to see through different lenses. Lately we call these lenses “conservative” or “liberal” but there are many degrees between when viewed through finely adjusted lenses.

In my small spiritual group our lenses are finely tuned. One member ran a small business for years and perceives government regulations as complicating running a business. One tears up when thinking about social justice issues. One is an avowed libertarian. One looks through a lens of love. Me? I love to analyze everything and am intrigued by the diversity of our thoughts. We have known each other for years and we know each of us has a good heart. We are trusting. So far, we haven’t begun to screech at each other. We do try to listen.

I am reminded of my years working with patients when they were making (sometimes not-wise) medical choices for their lives. Before I could intervene I first had to try to understand where they were coming from. I had to learn to listen, look and detach from my own viewpoint. There is something I learned a long time ago and I’m still learning: if I don’t know your story I don’t know you; if you don’t know my story you don’t know me.

The Apostle Paul said: “What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete—as complete as God’s knowledge of me. 1 Cor 13:12 Good News Bible It’s pretty clear: we don’t see clearly. Paul then goes on and assures us: #love matters.

Ann is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way

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