There are some things in life we get to choose, and
some things we dont. Well, okay, theres a lot of things
we dont. Way more that we dont. Okay, most of life is
spent dealing with choices we didnt make.
I am male . I did not choose that.
I am white. I did not choose that.
I am American. I did not choose that.
I am Italian, Irish, and a Yankee as well. All choices
made for me by the circumstances of my birth. I also
grew up Catholic, Democrat and blue collar (not
surprising considering my ethnic background and Great
Lakes area environment). As many do, I adopted my
family ways in most aspects of life. I was an altar boy.
I rooted for Kennedys. I did basically whatever my folks
did until I was old enough to understand and question
things for myself and begin to learn which choices I could
make and which I couldnt.
Well, I couldnt change the fact that I was a white
male. I couldnt change my height. I could change my
weight and appearance (to some degree). Health is a
choice we can often make. Appearance is always a
choice we can make at some level.
I was raised a Catholic, like both of my parents
families. I went to Catholic schools and played in one of
the church sports leagues. When I got older I learned more
about other faiths. At first I questioned everything,
tried to read everything and understand all the other
faiths. In the end, I still considered myself relatively
Catholic, but I have a much better understanding of the
world and other religions.
The biggest choice I could make is my behavior.
Everything I am, everything I want, everything I do is
affected by my behavior- my attitude, and the way I treat
others. I was born in the sexist 50s. That does not
make me sexist. Treating women badly would do it, or if I
actually believed any of that sexist crap, that would do it.
Also, the bibles language tells me to include all women
when we say man or men' as in mankind, as well as every
race. I choose to believe that more objective truth.
Likewise, I am not racist because I am white. I cant
look back at my ancestry and find racial atrocities to feel
ashamed and guilty for. I cant read the news without
being incensed by racial issues. I cant justify the
oppression of anyone in this country. I did not choose to
be American, but I can choose the way I interpret the
Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Maybe Washington and Jefferson had slaves, but Lincoln
changed that, and I can see this as proof to me that all
men are created equal. I choose to view racism and the
concept of racial superiority or inferiority as immature,
childish jealousies and fears, not deserving of serious
consideration. I cant make people believe that. All I can
do is act on my beliefs and try not to step on any toes.
Thats not easy, since I am probably the single worst
demographic type in the U.S. today. Single, white, male,
no kids, over 50, middle class suburban childhood. There
are few that will try to believe that I am not racist, sexist,
capitalist, bigoted or whatever theyre mad at or want to
blame for their ills. Well, I didnt cause those problems,
and I cant help if Im being punished me for them.
As for politics, I inherited my dads, a bit. I think thats
fairly common for baby boomers and their folks alike.
Politics, like religion, are often rooted in family tradition
and social level. In general, the rich have usually been
conservative and the poor (most predictably) demanding
change (liberals). Nowadays, people have more
opportunity to be informed than ever, and yet many still
cling to political heritages. Choosing a political position
can be tough, but it is still a choice, not an inheritance.
Sooner or later, everyone must learn to evaluate their
choice of political sides objectively, if only to confirm
their opinions. I found, in time, that I did share many of
my parents beliefs and opinions. Over the years, they
came to agree with many of my differing thoughts. I
learned that they were really more middle of the
road than outright Democrat. And the same went for
most of our neighbors, Republicans alike. It seemed to
me, early on, that both parties were so extreme, the
average person had to choose whichever would help them,
Traditionally Democrats have represented workers,
and Republicans, the employers. It is very difficult for
the voter to break the custom and vote the other party.
Both parties are presented in an only one will do
manner. I think most people would rather have all the
information on an issue before they vote on it. We dont
expect that at all. We are used to the polarization of the
'two party' system. We expect to hear only the extreme
aspects of the story from both sides. Sadly, we vote on
many issues based on what will hurt us the least, not
what will solve the problem best. Through all of this there
remains a cynical sense of futility, the feeling that the
average citizen cant make political choices, that their
vote is meaningless.
Well, my friends, wake up!!! Politics and
government, behavior and integrity- all are choices that
we make and unless we demand real facts and full
participation in the process, we punt our rights to anyone
who sees a way to profit from them.
You can choose, too. We can all choose.