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October

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Assessing One’s Options

Those of us who have been involved as pupils, in the upper part of secondary school, will remember the business of selecting ‘options’ – the subjects to ac- company the ‘core’ subjects – as progress is made towards taking external exami- nations. Choosing the appropriate options can be a complex business, especially when a dif cult choice between two favourite subjects arises. As we progress through life, other option situations arise: perhaps concerning career, choice of partner, things to buy – even selection of what to wear or the upholstery and ‘non-standard’ equipment for a new car.

I can hear someone saying ‘it would be nice to have a choice’, and I fully agree the facility for having a rich range of options in our lives is not evenly distributed. It’s fascinating to hear children discussing their future hopes and dreams, and, many of their aspirations are based on the assumption that there will be choice. As we get older, many dreams fade, and the range of options for how we live our lives seems to decrease. Many factors can contribute to this: career openings, family re- sponsibility, nance, the in uence of others – the list of reasons is endless. Some- times we may feel unhappy that our option range is limited. We may be upset that our option range does not spread far ‘upwards’ – to big houses, exotic holidays, smart cars – all that sort of thing. But, let us consider those for whom options do not exist at life’s very basic levels, where people cannot ‘opt out’ of lack of shelter or place to sleep, dirty, parasite-ridden water, disease, high mortality.Yes, it’s glum for some. Let us be thankful for those who have worked to give us some option in our lives, those who have fought and died for our freedoms, those who have made sacri ces for us. Can we, I wonder, even in a small way, make some sacri ce in our lives so that others may experience the great gift of being able to exercise some choice in theirs?

Richard