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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

We Always Have Choice

How many times have you heard someone say “I had no choice.” How often have you told yourself that in order to justify some action or lack thereof.

Every time we tell ourselves that we have no choice, about anything, we are giving up something precious. We are giving up our free will, the very thing that makes us human beings. Every time we accept that excuse from others we are enabling them to be less than they are.

When we say we have no choice, what we are really saying is that we cannot deal with the consequences we to attach to the choices that life gives us, whether these consequences are totally imagined or almost certain. When we give up our willingness to choose we become victims of our circumstances and others who would control us with their fears or desires. Ironically we feel we are directing our lives by choosing not to choose. But in reality we have abdicating the responsibility we have to truly live our lives.

Jean Paul Sartre the famous existentialists tells the story of how, in his early life, in occupied France, during the Second World War he was drafted to serve the Germans by providing intelligence against the allies as a weatherman. In a lonely outpost at a weather station it occurred to him that he had told himself that he had no choice but to sell out at the wishes of his oppressors. What he realized was not that he had made a “right “ or “wrong” choice but that he had not chosen at all.

Sartre’s later writings reveal how this realization influenced his life and inspired others to find the courage to make deliberate choices in their lives. His perpetual message to us as human beings is to never loose sight of the value of making real choices and the human dignity and responsibility for our lives which this expresses.

So what does choosing really look like? Well in the case that Sartre cites, he realizes that he always had the right to choose not to capitulate even if it meant he would be killed. It occurred to him that there was something more important than his life and that was that preservation of human dignity through exercising his freedom to choose life or death, the ultimate choice we all have.

Sartre’s message is all but lost today in a society where people routinely justify selling out and see themselves as having no choice. This has created a pervasive climate of desperation, fear and depression that is ultimately deadly to us all. But Sartre’s message was not lost on the people of France as an estimated fifty thousand people attended his funeral in Paris in 1980.


Blogger Michelle York said...

"What you are not aware of is choosing for you." ~ Guru Om

I am enjoying your blog postings very much.

10:57 AM  

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