Thursday, January 10, 2013

Our Choices, Are They Really Freely Made?

The other day a Facebook friend sent me a quote:

"Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It is not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make. PERIOD!"

When I first read that quote my immediate reaction was to take it at face value as being One Hundred Percent correct, especially since I was making the same point to someone about choices made that have lasting affects on one's life. But as I thought about this quote something began to gnaw at my conscience. While it is true that everything we do depends on our choices about limited opportunities presented to us and the ramifications of those choices AND we own those choices because we and only we make them, it is also true that our environment certainly influences the choices we make. That environment includes where we are, our family or lack of, when maturing, how rich or poor one is and believe it or not our age, all this and many more things affect choices we make.

We live in a western civilization that while not perfect is pretty far ahead of other parts of the world when it comes to, let us say, the treatment of women. The choices made by the women in our part of the world is far different from the choices made by those living in the back woods of India, Africa, Afghanistan. There are more choices to be made among a variety of opportunities for the women of the western world than those others referenced. I would say the choices made by the women in the less advanced civilizations are ones they own, they made them, correct? But are they really responsible for every decision and choice they make? It doesn't seem so, does it?

Poverty, economics, can certainly have an effect upon every choice one makes. Certainly the Kennedys or the Astors have much more opportunities available to them therefore giving them the ability to make choices that are much easier than those who have less assets at their control. The kid who grows up in the slums of
South America where they have to pick through the garbage grounds for sustenance  or even the kid in the slums of Chicago and New York who see the deprivation up close of the haves and have nots, are more prone to acts of violence or stealing just because of the fact that the world does not give them the ability to make better choices.

As we grow older, from fully dependent on our parents or guardians each step leads us to making decisions based on our age in life, for instance marriage, earnings and health to name a few things that age itself leads us to make choices based on our situation in life and how old we are. The very fact of age can lead us to poor decisions because the options become less and less.

The interaction between people, our environment, past and present affect our choices made that while owning those choices they are influenced greatly by the totality of the person making those decisions. The lovers professes true and ever lasting love. But one that comes from a Mormon background, might see that love including more than one while one coming from a more traditional background means an exclusive, monogamous relationship. The choices made are owned by these parties but they have been greatly influenced by their background and could very well cause the lovers to break up because of the differences in the decisions made. So who is to blame? The lovers for the choices and decisions made? Have they really made the decisions, choices freely? The quote I started with follows:

"Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It is not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision you make. PERIOD!"

I don't think so. While it is true we must be responsible for our choices. The choices between limited possibilities will determine where we go with our lives and we must be responsible for decisions we make. But  to say "blame" must rest only with us, and I am not sure "blame" is a word I would use, is like taking a quote out of context, for we are the sum total of our experiences, our place in life we find ourselves, including age, youngest to oldest, and everything else that makes us the person we are, is what finally is responsible for the choices, decisions made be it for the good or bad, depending on how one feels with one's state in life.
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