The notion of choice is a headline-maker in today’s America. Past generations didn’t much know the word, because there was darn little choice in your life. If your father went to school X you went to school X….if he worked as a farmer you became a farmer…if the family was Anglican you were Anglican…and if you became pregnant you became a mother. End of story.
Today all that’s changed. Americans have decided that now we’re big enough and rich enough and strong enough to decide most of these matters for ourselves. We value phrases like “right to happiness” and “freedom of choice.” TheY have this nice Jeffersonian ring to them, and after all, we all love Jefferson’s nifty Declaration of Independence.
Only there’s a chink in this gleaming armor. Because you see choice means effort, the effort it takes to actually choose among different options. When the options were few, the choices were easy. Today, however, our choices are endless. Careers? We are told the sky’s the limit. Religions? Whatever we want or no longer want. New car, new home, new vacation? No problem, for almost anyone can put almost anything on credit. A new baby? Not to worry, our options include pills before, pills after, choice of genders, maybe someday choice of eye color and genetic disposition. It’s something like waking up in the middle of Disney World with a free pass to every ride.
This chink, then, is that given all these options, now we are responsible for the ones we select. We can no longer shrug them off as we used to with, “What can I do about it?” These days the answer that haunts any conscience is: “Plenty.”
So. Does this mean getting to make all my own choices is really a kind of trap? I’m trapped in an embarrassment of riches in which I have to stand up for myself and be counted? Wait a minute! This isn’t how it reads in the Declaration…..
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