“It is our choices, far more than our abilities that define who we truly are.” These words are under my photograph in my high school yearbook. These words, written by J.K. Rowling in the Harry Potter series have had a profound impact on my life.
Every day I see choices that people make, choices that they think define who they are..that they want to define who they are- and yet the question lingers: do they?
The most basic choice we are all faced with is to participate or observe…I’ve always believed there are only two types of people in this world: astronauts and astronomers–that is, people who study the stars, and people who reach for them. In a way, everyone falls into one of these two major categories, do-ers, movers, people who actively participate in the world around them…and those who are simply more comfortable watching, learning, and understanding. Neither choice is right or wrong (that is clearly not the issue) but merely an extension of the kind of human being one aspires to become.
There are other choices too; choices that define us in crucial ways socially. The most instantly pressing of these choices, the one that in the western world lands us under the most severe punishment is that of sexuality. One friend of mine, who is a lesbian, told me something once (on the topic of her being gay) that I can’t help but repeat: “There are over six billion humans on the Earth…all of them searching for true love. I am too- so why would I limit myself to only half?” While this may seem like a comment a bi-sexual would make, I believe it is a comment that suggests a preference, but a willingness to love and be open- and that is the real choice. It’s a choice that should unite us, not split us apart.
Of course, that’s not how it is. People often look to sexuality as a source of anger and difference, and this too is a choice. When you choose to insult someone or something by calling it gay- think about what you’re saying, and ask yourself if sexuality is at all in question. If the word is being expanded into a context that you do not wish to talk about, then why bother?
There are other choices too, choices of right and wrong, good and evil..light and dark. These choices though, are dynamic. One can make a wrong choice today, and redeem themselves tomorrow. Likewise, there is always the pitfall of a “wrong decision”. It is important, though, to view these decisions from an objective stance- what is wrong, evil, or inappropriate to one person may be entirely different when viewed from an alternate lens. Motivation is important, and so, the choice here is to keep an open mind or to judge. But it must be said: “Some of the worst crimes imaginable were committed with the best possible intentions.”
There is also that classic choice between right and easy, which I always love to impose upon friends who are faced with challenges- this choice speaks to the mental fortitude of an individual. It is usually a question of sound constitution and motivation as opposed to indifference and an opposition to conflict- both ways have equally weighted pro’s and con’s..
In the end, choice is just our way of effecting change into our environment, a decision to participate, even if that participation is the act of observation. All choices should be appreciated and respected, and if we could manage to do that…things would be very nice.
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