One Man Versus Choice
by Christian Thomas Golden
[YOU WILL FIND, HEREIN, SECTIONS OF STRIKETHROUGH TEXT. THEY ARE EDITS LEFT IN FOR MY OWN SAKE OF TRYING TO REMEMBER WHY I THOUGHT THEM APPLICABLE IN THE FIRST PLACE. AS SUCH, THEY MAY STILL INFLUENCE THOUGHT IN A POSITIVE WAY, THOUGH THEY MAY BE INCONSISTENT WITH THE WHOLE OF THE REST OF THE TEXT]
Should I, or shouldn’t I? Thanks to a recent comment left on a previous post of mine, I find myself writing this current post about choice. The many components
(the what, how, where, when, and – most importantly – why) of any given choice will be explored in the following.
When a decision is made, it is a choice of one option over others. Eggs or pancakes? Go out to eat or go see a movie? Have a friend over for dinner or have a date night with your wife? Roll over and sleep in or go to work on time? Speed or obey the speed limit?
There are many choices to be made throughout any given day. Sometimes the “right” choice may appear to be obvious. I am on a diet, so I should eat the more healthy alternative. However, this may not always be the “right” decision.
I’m dieting. I’ve just been invited to a family Christmas party where there will be no healthy alternative. My options? (1)Decline the invitation, (2) accept the invitation, but bring a healthy alternative with me, (3) accept the invitation, but don’t eat, (4) accept the invitation and experience the party in it’s entirety.
There are surely other options, but for the sake of efficiency, I hope this will do. So, what’s the right decision? Well, surely, if I care about myself at all, I would decline the invitation so as to avoid temptation and remain on my diet. But what will my family think? This might cause quite some discomfort when I run into them down the road!
I probably should accept the invitation. I’ll just bring some healthy alternative with me. Oh, but aunt Betsy is quite the passionate cook. Bringing my own food may look a lot like me preferring my food to hers. Quite disrespectful!
Perhaps I will go, but simply refuse to eat. But again, disrespectful!
I guess I must simply accept and experience the whole. But now I’ve simply convinced myself to fall off my diet! I’ve gone and traded self-control for selflessness! Wait, is it even selflessness if I’m doing it to avoid conflict (ensure my comfort)?
Damn! What am I to do!?
Well, there are several components which make up a choice. First, one must run into and recognize the initial conflict (get the Facebook invite for the family party). Then, you recognize potential options (whether or not to attend). Then, various motives (known or unknown) push you in various directions (you’re introverted, so you want to stay home or you’re dieting so you want to stay home, or whatever else might motivate you in a particular direction).
Finally, you make your decision based upon one or a combination of motivators.
So, did you make the right decision? Is there, in fact, a “right” decision?
Well, we (most of us) believe that there is such a thing as wrong decisions. Therefore, there must also be “not wrong” decisions. Someone pulls out in front of you while you’re driving. Instinct? Drive up his ass and scare him into never doing that to me again! Maybe I’ll even flip him the middle finger! IN FACT, I THINK I’LL CRASH RIGHT INTO HIS BUMPER AND HOPE HE DRIVES OFF A CLIFF AND DIES! Okay, maybe I’ll just drive close up behind him. Actually, nothing I do is going to change this person. I guess I’ll just chill out, take a deep breath, and be the best driver I can be.
What would have been the wrong decision? Obviously, the instinctual/emotional impulse to attack. Why would that have been a wrong decision? Why was the other decision the right decision?
I’m going to take the lazy way out and ask you to refer to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for an in depth break down of “right” and “wrong.” Yes…I can do that. Okay, so you’ve referred to (or refused to refer to) M.C. by C.S. Lewis, and you are now wondering (1) why I wrote this and (2) why you’re reading this. How should I know!? Anyways, I said something about the what, how, when, where, and – most importantly – why of any given choice. Since I’m unsure as to why I wrote the last few paragraphs, I’ll fall back on those…things? What: It is important, before making a decision, that one knows just what options exist in coming to a decision. We often narrow our minds over the years, to believe that there are fewer options than actually exist. How: When: Do we have to decide immediately? In those cases where a decision is not immediately necessary, don’t be hasty! Take your time. Even when the right answer seems obvious, wait. Where: In what environment is this decision being made? Some decisions may be simple in that, if it centers around policy in the workplace, there is often only one clear and written right answer.< Why:
In general, there are three motivators for action (or choice): carnal (dictated by senses), intellectual (what would be the most reasonable decision), and moral (based upon some third-party scale of right and wrong). Note, the first two are dependent upon the individual (thoughts, feelings, emotions, understanding, reason, passion, etc.). The third is an external force unaffected by carnal and intellectual influence (otherwise it would simply be either carnal or intellectual). Now, no single motivator is always wrong. One motivator, by its definition, must always be right (the moral). All three can be right, two can be right, or it could be that both the carnal and intellectual are at odds with the moral.
Don’t negate an option simply because it will result in great carnal pleasure! Don’t negate an option simply because it took a great amount of thought to come to the conclusion!
God granted us physical bodies with the capability to feel pleasure. God granted us minds capable of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. We are left to choose whether or not to submit them as mediums through which His perfect will may be exercised.
There is no formula to follow to guarantee a walk of perfection. That would nullify faith, hope, love, rebuke, correction, and discipline.
Do not fear mistakes! It is out of mistakes that God lifts you, breaks you down, and rebuilds you to more than you would ever imagine possible. You will mess up. You will fail. God will never forsake you. You don’t know the right choice? Decide, fail, learn, move on. From this, your faith, hope, and love will grow exponentially.
For Biblical reference, a diligent reading or two (or ten) of Ecclesiastes will suffice.