CHOICE. . .CHOICES. . .

Greenleaf writes: I don’t know how to change the world so as to make it more tolerable… But I have some ideas about choices, choices about ourselves; choices which, if made consistently, will help us as individuals to deal more creatively with the world as it is; choices that might set some new responsible forces to work in the world; choices which might make us social ‘antibodies’ that operate as a pervasive, constructive force in our times, and in ways that cannot now be foreseen. This is what makes the problems of human development so interesting to me: the unseen potential that may flower if one makes the kind of choices that recognize the time of crisis in which we live and the need for more of those who have the strength to act responsibly.

Robert Frost concluded his poem, ‘The Road Not Taken,’ with these words:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I invite you to join me as we choose the road less traveled by, the choice that makes all of the difference.

Greenleaf reminds us that no matter what, we always have choice. He also reminds us that the choices we make will make all the difference. If I accept Greenleaf’s reminder as ‘true’ for ‘me’ then by doing so I become unconditionally response-able and responsible. Because I always have choice I am unconditionally able to always respond – in fact, I am ultimately responsible to respond and to choose. If Greenleaf is correct then what do I mean when I say, ‘I have no choice?’ How often have I uttered these words? How often have I heard these words uttered by others? If people like Viktor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Suu Kyi are able to make life-affirming choices amidst the most trying circumstances what prohibits me from doing so? What prohibits most of us from doing so?

Greenleaf also reminds us that our choices do not have to be ‘perfect’ choices – they do, however, have to be ‘made consistently.’ For example, I consistently – over time – make choices that nurture my P.I.E.S. more than deplete my P.I.E.S. (you might remember, gentle reader, that our P.I.E.S. are the four dimensions that help make us fully human beings; these are the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual/Spirit dimensions).

Greenleaf also reminds us that our challenge is to engage and respond to the world ‘as it is’ – we can chose to become ‘social antibodies’ that act as ‘constructive forces’ for out times. How often do I complain about the world as it is? How often do I say to myself (or to others): ‘If the world were only different, then…’? How often have I heard ‘I don’t vote because my vote won’t count’? How do I know which choices I make will really matter? Greenleaf reminds us that the effect of our choices might not become visible for years (since our culture is for the most part a short-term focused culture Greenleaf’s reminder probably won’t resonate with many).

How often do I really choose a path less-traveled; how often have I chosen such a path? Each of us has chosen, each of us will choose today, and if we are alive tomorrow each of us will choose tomorrow. Many years ago a good friend asked me: ‘How much awareness can a person stand?’ A great question. How much awareness can I-You-We stand when it comes to being clear about our choices? How awake and aware and intentional and purpose-full do I choose to become when it comes to my choices?

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