Wednesday, July 23, 2008


As I was bicycling in to work this morning, I was thinking of choice in our society, from the bottom up.

We are all responsible for the choices we make. But we don't determine all the options we choose between. Most options are handed to us by our environment, with no alternatives. And we build our lives over time from how we choose between them.

We're not doomed to be mechanistic. No matter what the influence of our backgrounds, brains and bodies, we can do the work to free our minds and choose. But if the most enlightened man on Earth is presented with a choice of only bread or water, he still won't be able to choose cake.

This holds true whether we're talking about the Middle East or the sale of crystal meth. Give a US kid a perceived choice between either being broke or selling drugs, he is more likely to choose selling drugs. Give a young man in Saudi Arabia a choice between following US-supported leaders who oppress him, or following radical clerics who offer him the chance to strike against that government and ours - and he is more likely to become our enemy. Give either human being a better option, and they are more likely to choose better.

They are still accountable for whatever choice they make, and should be held so. It's just that if we want people to make better choices, then for the long-term pragmatically AND morally it behooves us to present people with a better set of options.

Which brings us to leaders. Until this morning, I thought of leaders merely as people who tell us what to do. Now I see our leaders as people who choose and manage the options which WE choose from. Their choices influencing our choices.

This is an interesting way to see things, as it respects our free will and theirs. We are all equals able to make choices - we're just about different things. And in the US and many other countries, we are fortunate enough to be able to choose our leaders, whose choices then influence our options for future choices.

It's all about choice, always. Choice is life.

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