The Fallacy of Composition: Why What’s Good for One Person Isn’t Always Good for Everyone

There exists a curious phenomenon: when monumental change brews, people often await the “final straw” before acting. That is, a single happenstance suffices as pretext for their decision – a quarrel precipitates parting ways; a trifle incites an outburst. Of course, such trivialities never constitute the authentic rationale, merely the spur for decisive action. Discerning whether this approach is sound poses a perplexity. Perhaps one feels compelled to justify seemingly extreme conduct, lest it appear irrational or even deranged. Or perhaps one requires an excuse to evade subsequent guilt: if I can fault others or plead helplessness, even if I later prove misguided, I will feel exonerated, even righteous. The triggering events may be grand or humble. Frequently, individuals wield some nugatory matter as the “last straw,” forgetting the conflict’s authentic cause in the subsequent rationalization. The “last straw” serves as convenient artifice. The fuse has combusted.

One must also contemplate: Have you awaited a last straw in your own life? Do you presently anticipate someone transgressing some arbitrary boundary so that you can legitimately break free? If so, would severing ties without any culpability or external judgment give you relief? In truth, none of this is necessary. If conditions warrant change, delay brings only detriment. Simply cutting ties when appropriate is the simplest and easiest path. When challenges arise but fear hinders action, this approach also manifests: people strive to identify favorable conditions and pave the way towards an eventual decision. With the time ripe, they need only locate some generally acceptable rationale. The triggering reasons – poor health, disagreements, setbacks – I cannot wait to proclaim my withdrawal, plausibly demonstrate my decision’s validity, absolve myself of responsibility, and then continue with tranquility. However, I await and await, yet no “straw” materializes. What should I do? Some will even scheme extensively to engineer such an incident, coercing others into furnishing the desired “last straw” to achieve their aims. This illuminates the unpredictability of human nature.

My purpose here is to bring awareness to this tendency and remain vigilant, both internally and externally. If you perceive indications in others, encourage them to share their genuine feelings and transition expeditiously without pursuing such troublesome or even unscrupulous methods of finding some “last straw” or another. The optimal outcome entails open discussion and amicable separation. If you feel your own mind drifting in this direction, please ask yourself why you require such a happenstance and whether sincerity could accomplish your aims. The last straw is a crutch no one actually needs. When you realize you await the last straw, take that thought itself as the last straw – a lucid signal that you should take action. In this busy world, there are sufficient purposes to pursue. There is no call to expend time and energy on things devoid of substance. This holds true both for ourselves and for others.

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