It occurred to me recently that we’re afraid of it. We like the idea of it. Having a choice. We fight for that right every day. But when we actually are faced with having one? Panic. What do you mean I have to make a decision? On my own? Shock. Horror. Someone tell me what to do!
It’s all over our news coverage. We watch whoever our trusted newscaster is and wait for them to tell us how to feel, what to be angry about today, what celebrity we need to be mocking for poor life choices – there’s that word again.
This phenomenon recently became clear to me in the usual way. On social media. Where the shock and horror that humans would have the right to choose life or death in late stages of illness was being put into place in California. The same people that are appalled by the idea that a women has the right to choose what to do with their own bodies were devastated by this. As if having these laws in play means you HAVE to choose death or you HAVE to choose abortion. Like, if it’s available as a choice you have no other choice but to choose it.
And it hit me. These people have lived their lives with no alternative choices. So all they know is what’s been chosen for them. Their story has already been written.
And as I thought more about it I realized how lucky I am. In my life I’ve only been faced with one thing that wasn’t my own choice. Disability. Everything else I’ve been able to choose on my own. And even then, disability was a choice too. I could either crawl up into a ball and let my disability rule my life, or I could deal with it. I choose the latter, although these days not as much as I used to. In a lot of ways my disability has made choices for me too. I don’t really have a choice in what car I drive – but the fact that I can drive is a bonus. There are a lot of places I can’t go, but that’s a bit of a choice too. The thing is, I get to make those choices.
I also realized I was lucky to grow up in the family I have. Many people would be shocked to hear me say that. But I am. I was never told what religion to choose. What path my life had to take. I made those decisions on my own. My family wasn’t thrilled by my choices. When I tried Christianity for a while they were appalled I’d show up in their Jewish homes with a cross around my neck. When I decided I didn’t want to be any religion they were a bit disappointed I didn’t find Judaism. But I was never disowned or disavowed.
To anyone who is afraid of having a choice, I’ve got good news for you. Just because the alternative choice exists doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to choose it. You don’t want an abortion? News flash – no one actually WANTS an abortion. But having a choice is much better than not having one. You want to choose to stay on life support? Just because there’s a law allowing assisted suicide for terminally ill patients doesn’t mean you are forced to choose that path.
Choice. It’s a gift we need to cherish. We live in a country that has choice in abundance. But just because there’s more than one choice and just because you don’t like one that exists doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be available. You have the right to choose the one that fits you better. Amazing, isn’t it?