Wow that is a provocative way to start! of course Choice is also liberation and a billion of other things, but in the post I want to shine some light on how individualism has created a blind infatuation with choice – and how ‘choice’ is actually the very source of our oppression.
perhaps the single most pervasive and uniting variable in the US is our individualism – Our desire to emancipate the self from any barriers to self-fulfillment. It can be so hard for us to see that fulfillment is both in maintaining and emancipating from barriers. both in having choice and in allowing ourselves (irony noted) to not have a choice.
The other Day my 5 year old was balancing on a kitchen chair and was distracted by some other stimuli that stole his attention. He lost his balance and fell pretty hard, only kind-of catching himself on the chair before hitting the wood floor. he’s fine.
Of course he had been told many time not to do this… but even at 5 his strong desire to have a choice in all matters was stronger than his desire to avoid bodily injury in cases were injury was most probable and where there wasn’t really any benefit associated with the risk other then in validating that ‘he had a choice’ (meaning it wasn’t particularly rewarding- fun – for him to be standing on the chair = he just wanted to do it because he wasn’t supposed to).
As adults we have countless examples of such experiences with children and teens – its maddening! “Why can’t they just follow the rules!”
but we tend to avoid looking at the metaphorical mirror to see how often we are doing the same thing. “What don’t we have any rules to follow!” 😉
the defensive sides of us want’s to quickly retort, “wait a minute – I have rules! I would never kill someone… I don’t steal people’s cars! I don’t pee in public places… well wait .. I don’t unless…I don’t drink and drive… well actually I don’t get drunk and drive….well”
I’m not trying to focus us in on the big examples – this isn’t just a conversation about strict adherence to morals.
Ask yourself this question – What choices would be good for me to remove if I had the goal of being a physically, relationally and psychologically healthy person?
If exercise is a choice how often are you going to choose it? How many variables would you have to realistically quantify in order to make that choice? ex. I drank too much last night, I have a minor headache, its windy, my class has a sub teacher, I’ll work out tomorrow etc.”
If intentionally engaging in the health of your relationship is a choice how often would you choose something more suited to the self? How often would you go somewhere you didn’t want to – have sex when your partner was hot and bothered and you were tired- clean up when the mess wasn’t yours – be emotionally available when the ball game is on – play with your kids when you are always exhausted from work?
What if your passion and spirituality surrounds doing something uncomfortable such as camping in the fall, surfing at sunrise, getting first tracks on a ski mountain, practicing your musical instrument, traveling to connect with important relationships etc?
How are our choices oppressing us?
Perhaps if another drink after midnight wasn’t a choice we would have enjoyed the first lift, perhaps if staying in bed wasn’t a choice we would have caught a sunrise set of waves, perhaps if TV was not an option we would know how to play our instruments. Perhaps if waiting for perfectly comfortable weather wasn’t a choice we would have gone camping. Perhaps if choice wasn’t an option I would blog more…
Authenticity and congruence are difficult variables to describe in a spiritual sense… yet we all feel what they mean.
we have offered ourselves the choice to be incongruent… to be inauthentic… to avoid our passions… to live without fulfillment… and to engage in activities that hurt the body and relationships we live in
and this is why choice is our oppressor… we have attached to choice with religious rigidity and in doing so we fell from our authentic path… we chose to avoid our destiny to satisfy our addiction to comfort and individualism.
It feels really wonderful for me to think about freeing myself of this burden… to allow myself the freedom to have no choice in the area of congruence. To be congruent – especially when it is the less comfortable choice.