by David Sisler

The little boy, like little boys everywhere, wanted a pet. He decided that in the scheme of things, his life was incomplete without the presence of a cat he could call his own. So he presented a time-worn, and experimentally proven, argument. "I promise I'll take care of it. I'll feed it. I'll change the liter box," he said.

And like mothers everywhere, she believed him. At least she relented, worn down by his continual pleas.

Several weeks went by and all was well. Then came the fateful day when the boy's mother said, "Son, empty your cat's liter box," and the boy answered, "I can't. I'm too little."

The next day the boy wanted to go down the street, by himself, and play with a friend.

"You can't go by yourself," his mother said. "You are too little."

"No!" he protested. "I'm a big boy!"

Like that little guy, we all want to have it both ways: take frequent days off, but still have plenty of money; eat everything in sight and still wear size 34 trousers; be couch potatoes and still have abs of steel; live like hell and still go to heaven.

Life is sacred, we say, but some of us insist we must have abortion on demand. To have abortion on demand, life cannot be sacred. If life is not sacred then we are hypocrites when we worry about euthanasia, suicide, and teenagers who drive the wrong way on interstate highways while under the influence of alcohol until they smash into an oncoming car and kill three innocent people. You cannot have it both ways.

We want to balance the Federal government's budget. Instead of prudently and carefully reducing spending, eliminating pet projects and countless barrels of pork, we look for ways to keep spending. In order to maintain the status quo and at the same time balance the budget, one of the schemes currently in use allows surplus funds from Social Security to be diverted into budget balancing. But in a few years, we are told, the surplus will run out and Social Security will have to compete with other budget categories for funding. That's called trying to have it both ways.

The good folks in South Carolina seem to have trouble making up their minds at least the people in the state government, that is. Last year the state's House of Representatives voted to ban video poker, but like-minded Senators could not stop a filibuster on their side. Governor Jim Hodges says he has a plan for regulating the industry that contributed heavily to his election campaign, but has been slow to release his plan to the House Ways and Means Committee. Committee Chairman Henry Brown seems to have a plan to deal with the gambling industry, but with the video poker industry marking the deck, you can almost count on a misdeal on any real regulation.

As South Carolina continues to go both ways on gambling, Annie Harrison of Aiken was enjoying a good night at the machines. The self-described video poker addict finished her daily five hour stint and carried $700 in winnings home from the Y-Z Kwik Shop. Her good fortune did not go unnoticed. Three masked bandits entered her house and helped themselves to her ill-gotten booty. Ah, the good that gambling brings to the community! That's what comes from having it both ways.

"Baby Blues" is one of the brightest of the daily comic strips. Written by Jerry Scott and drawn by Rick Kirkman, it follows the daily antics of Darryl MacPherson, his wife, the former Wanda Wizowski, and their two children, three-year-old Zoe and seven-month-old Hamish. In a recent strip, Wanda tells the kids, "Well, I'm off to start dinner. You two have fun and behave yourselves." Zoe looks quizzically at Hammie and then shouts, "Make up your mind!"

It is not as easy as it may sound, especially as it is bellowed from the lips of a child, but most of us waver, notably in respect to eternal things. One day God's prophet, Elijah, called Israel to a summit meeting and challenged, "How long will you dance back and forth between God and Baal, hopping around, divided in your minds? If the Phoenician deity, in whom you seem to have placed so much trust, is God, then follow him. But if Jehovah is the Lord God Almighty, the Supreme God above all, then keep your balance, fall into line behind him and follow in his steps!"

You cannot live life neutrally. You cannot have it both ways. The Lord is God, and what is right may never be popular, but it is still right. Make up your mind.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 3/6/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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