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Monday 18 June 2018
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Letters to the Editor

Discretion as part of valour

THE EDITOR: We’ve often heard it said that “discretion is a necessary part of valour.” There are three key words in this tenet.

“Valour” can be interpreted to mean a firm course of action to undertake or equally decisive attitude to adopt in response to a perception of having been wronged in whichever way. But it is “necessary” for such valour to be tempered by “discretion” which, as opposed to the reaction of a raging bull, is to consider the nuances of the course of action or attitude you are about to undertake in response, so that you can make an informed, balanced decision with minimal fallout.

Critical thinkers often operate this way for weighing the good and bad of an intended course of action is a reasonable way to approach an issue, “if the candle is not to cost more than the funeral,” as they say in local parlance. The impulsive is likely to frown on any attempt to consider the pros and cons to an issue as cowardice, indifferent to the possible fallout arising, only to regret afterwards. They prefer the “valour” without the “discretion.” Let’s take some hypothetical situations in our everyday living.

You have been knocked from behind in your car and you come out fuming, only to see a Goliath emerging from the offending vehicle, unmistakeably threatening but smiling cynically at you. Would you accost him to have your wrong righted, considering the times in which we live?

Again, would you engage in tit-for-tat with abusers on the sidewalk or try to make a hasty exit, again considering the times? Or would you tell your employer where to “get off” if you have been reprimanded, knowing that your family is waiting for your pay check at the end of the week?

Lastly — and this is a tough one, admittedly — if your home is invaded as seems fashionable now, would you confront your armed attackers if your family is being violated, or hold on to your life to better serve them even after the abuse?

In each of these cases you are wronged, but does it serve you well in the long run to establish your sense of being wronged, irrespective? Certainly there is no fairness and justice in being wronged without redress, and your pride is hurt because your “discretion” prevented you from obtaining the immediate satisfaction that would please your ego, but are these not worthwhile sacrifices in the long run?

I made this call before when the LGBT were screaming for their constitutional right to exist side by side with the rest of society, and perhaps rightly so, but I argued then that by making this public play for gay rights they were simply setting themselves for abuse, which was exactly what followed. I argued for a little discretion on the issue, suggesting that LGBT should enjoy their status quietly without trying to shout their case in a society which is still predominantly conventional on the issue.

Couldn’t there have been the same discretion on an issue which is now tearing the country apart? The fallout from it is all over the media, perhaps irreparably, but couldn’t this have been avoided if the “wronged” was sensitive to the reaction her choice would produce and the division it could create, by taking another option elsewhere?

I leave the answer to your better judgment.

DR ERROL BENJAMIN

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