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On Choice

  • Posted on January 19, 2015 at 10:00 AM

For some reason, I keep running into these same words, “I didn’t have a choice.” It’s cropped up so many times lately that I just have to comment. My point is simple: There’s always a choice!

Admittedly, we may have few choices, we may have bad choices, but nonetheless we always have a choice. Claiming anything else serves only two purposes: justification and disempowerment.

It started with a line in a book. “Remember this, you don’t have a choice.”

Except, even as that was said, the explanation belied the statement: Basically, the choice was to go along with the powerful but good person or fall into the hands of the powerful bad person. To avoid the latter, the powerful good person was willing to destroy the characters she was trying to save.

We are talking about a life-or-death choice, but it is nonetheless a choice. And, honestly, there are some things we, as human beings, need to be willing to die for. Today is a good day to take a moment and think about that.

Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the great American heroes. He became a hero, not be disavowing his choices, but by claiming his right to choose. And Martin Luther King, Jr. did choose and he chose well.

Faced with prejudice, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose open-heartedness. Faced with hatred, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose love. Faced with violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose peace. Faced with oppression, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose resistance. Faced with fear, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose compassion. Faced with anger, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose understanding.

These were not easy choices. They were inevitably life-and-death choices and Martin Luther King, Jr. chose what he did, knowing the example he was setting and the risks he was taking. He could have much more easily have said, “I have no choice.” He could have sat down, shut up, and lived long. If he had, he wouldn’t be a hero, because he wouldn’t have made a difference. He would have lived longer, but he would not have lived better.

Every time we say, “I have no choice,” we give our power to choose away to another. When we abdicate our responsibility to choose, we give up our ability to make a difference. Today, of all days, honor your right and your responsibility to choose. Don’t take the easy way. Do something that will make a difference.