October 04, 2017

Article at Authory

Refusing to Choose

Storytime again. Gather 'round, my friends.

When I was in junior high, the English teacher gave us a writing prompt for an essay. The prompt was that nuclear war had broken out and the writer was to imagine that he or she was huddled in a fallout shelter built and supplied for five people. Unfortunately, six people were crammed into the shelter, and it was our assignment to figure out who would be cast out into the nuclear wasteland.

I don't remember all of the descriptions of our choices. One of them though was a rabbi, which I remember for reasons I'll come back to.

Anyway, I thought the assignment sounded interesting and so I happily chattered about it at dinner that night. Much to my horror, my father became extremely angry and vowed to call the school to demand that I be excused from the assignment. He firmly believed that this was not an appropriate choice to ask of anyone, much less 14-year-old kids.

He followed through, and I was excused from the assignment. I was mortified that my dad had made such a stink. But then I listened to the essays when they were read by classmates. (I wasn't excused from that part.)

My classmates treated the assignment in a very trivial fashion, and were hooting and catcalling at each other's choices over who to throw out of the shelter. The teacher finally stepped in and ended the readings when a Jewish classmate said he'd throw out the rabbi so that the other survivors wouldn't have to be bored by the rabbi's prayers.

With that as background, perhaps you can guess my reaction to this hypothetical question that I found in my newsfeed:

You are required to attend a concert. (You don't get to answer, I wouldn't go, not an option.) You must attend one. At one concert you know there will be an attack by an automatic weapon. At one, there will be an attack with a hunting rifle, and at the third, a knife attack.

Which do you attend?

What would I do? I'd call the authorities and report that attacks were planned at three concerts. What kind of question is this, and how callous have we become that we can casually speculate on which planned atrocity we'd be willing to take our chances in attending?

(Image: Children's Peace Monument at Hiroshima, Pixabay.)