There once was a most curious country wherein making decisions was the highest of virtues. Citizens in this silly place liked to decide things, and not only for themselves but for their countrymen as well. Periodically, they would even have rituals devoted to their peculiar process of choosing this over that or that over this. And if Thing A received 51% of the vote while Thing B received only 49%, then Thing A would become the Law Of The Land for 100% of the citizens.
In the main, the people were very proud of their system and found that it worked beautifully. There were some, though–perhaps even more than some–who found these decisions hard and onerous. One girl in particular voiced her frustration aloud. “The choices,” she cried, “are stupid!” “These Laws Of the Land are unjust!” “But how could that be?” mused the choosers who chose. “How could the laws be unjust if so many people decided them?”
The dissenter dissented, as she was wont to do. “Justice isn’t voted on by committee! Might does not and cannot make right. Thing A and Thing B are both terrible, can’t you see? One wants to kill over here while the other wants to kill over there. One wants to steal from these people and the other wants to steal from those. This is a choice that is no choice at all!”
The people who heard were amazed and perplexed. “Well, choose the one who is least bad,” they suggested. “This is what many of us choosers choose to do.”
“I do not want to choose bad things!” insisted the girl, her fist clenching with determined zeal. “Why should I choose to kill over here or to kill over there if killing itself is just wrong? Why should I choose to steal from these or from those if I do not want to steal from anyone? I do not wish to play this game. It is poisoned through and through. I have not been given a moral choice so I will not choose at all!”
“Not choose?!” gasped the people. “Not choose?! (for when they were indignant they liked very much to repeat themselves.) What a sinful, sinful thing to say! It is your duty; it is your sacred responsibility. If you do not choose, then you cannot complain!”
The girl’s forehead furrowed as though she found their arguments painful to hear. “But…that doesn’t make any sense at all! I think no one is more awful than Thing A except for the amazingly terrible Thing B. And no one is more disturbing to me than Thing B except for the quite loathsome Thing A. If either one of them rule over me, then he does so against my will and because you choosers decided that he should. Of all people, why shouldn’t I complain?” The girl was exhausted now and out of breath for she was not one given to public proclamations and rarely did she exercise, but the righteousness of her cause buoyed her to face down the crowd that viewed her with increasing suspicion and hostility.
“You have no choice but to choose!” the people insisted to the girl as they surrounded her with their superior numbers.
The girl, recognizing that her situation was precarious and growing more so by the minute, racked her brain for an analogy that might persuade her fellow citizens. “But what if the choice is between eating the feces of a cow or the excrement of a goat? Surely then I could be forgiven for fasting?”
The people were relentless as they closed in around her. “Why would you not choose? It doesn’t matter which you eat as long as you decide to eat one of them.”
“But…cow poo? Goat dung?” the girl protested weakly, realizing that this was not going to go well for her.
The people nodded with religious fervor. “Cow poo!” cried a few in the crowd. “Goat dung!” shouted others in response. “You have no choice but to choose! You have no choice but to choose!”
And they took the girl and burned her for a witch.