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A Foolish Inconsistency

One of the bugbears of my life is (other) people who behave inconsistently, who say, in effect, without batting an eyelash or turning a hair, “That was then, this is now.”

When I was young I had friends who thought everyone should live on a kibbutz and do manual labor and heaped scorn on people who didn’t. Some of my friends went to live on kibbutz, and most of them, ten years later, were back doing something else. I should be more tolerant of this but I’m not.

Today’s New York Times has a particularly sad example of how poorly people are able to put themselves in other people’s shoes, despite their good intentions. The article is headlined “Helping Patients Face Death, She Fought to Live”, and is the tale of a woman who spent her working life persuading terminally ill patients to accept palliative care rather than heroic efforts, and then, when she became terminally ill herself, decided she didn’t want to accept palliative care but wanted to fight to the last breath.

I suppose one should be careful of persuading anyone to do anything, unless they absolutely beg you for advice, and even then ?

I leave the last word to Lewis Carroll:

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,

And have grown most uncommonly fat;

Yet you turned a back somersault in at the door –

Pray, what is the reason of that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his gray locks,

“I kept all my limbs very supple

By the use of this ointment – one shilling the box –

Allow me to sell you a couple.”

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