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  • Posts tagged with The Power of Choice

    The Power of Choice

    6. December, 2013BlogComments are off

    According to our ancient sages, God has given humans the power of choice. It goes without saying that we are shaped by powerful forces well beyond our control; but as humans, we still have the power to make choices in response to many unforeseen events in our lives. We especially have the power to make moral and ethical choices and determine, to a large degree our own fate. In fact, we must make the proper decisions and decide to exercise control over our lives so that we can live in a responsible and sane environment. This is not something that we should do; it is something that we must do.

    Scientists have confirmed that our DNA, our childhood and early social conditions are tremendously powerful influences on how we react in given situations; but can our personal will and determination can be used as our dominant influence? We not only react to circumstances, we create circumstances. The x and y chromosomes determine our eye and hair color, our height, and a multitude of other things in our lives. What it does not control is how we not only look upon each other and the way we treat each other or ourselves. A child, born of alcoholic parents probably has a propensity to become one himself. He has a decision to make pretty early on in his life. He knows that his parents have this affliction; the child determines which road to go down pretty early in life. Is it the road that will lead to addiction, unhappiness and destruction, or is it the road that will lead to productivity and possible happiness?

    Where we grow up determines many things as well. Our food choices, the sports teams we root for, (and in most cases), our political and marriage choices. But what DNA and early childhood influences do not control is how we look upon and treat people and whether we are honest, empathetic, kind, with our friends, family and even strangers. We ourselves decide that.

    There is a story told that exemplifies what I have just been describing.

    It goes like this. A man heard that there was going to be a huge rain storm and in his area, there was going to be flooding. He decided to climb to the roof of his house and wait, feeling that God would take care of him because he was such a strong believer. The rains began and rose treacherously higher, but the man’s faith in God was unwavering. When a rowboat came by and offered to save him, the man said, “No thank you, I have faith that God will save me.” The people in the rowboat pleaded with the man, to no avail. As the waters kept on rising, the man became more concerned and climbed to the top part of his roof, “knowing” that God would save him.

    A little later on a helicopter rescue team came by and dropped him a line, offering to get him to safety. Once again, the man said, “God will save me” Anyone reading this story knows that it has a sad ending as the man drowned because the waters rose so high that they finally swept him away.

    When the man entered heaven and stood before God, he complained; “God, you know that I had such strong faith in You that You would eventually save me. I spent my whole life serving You. Why didn’t You save me?” God replied, “Save you? I sent a boat and then a helicopter to save you. Why didn’t you see My hand in those rescue attempts? You had choices and both times you chose to ignore My hand in the attempts to save you.”

    God has provided us with free will to make choices in our lives. We can either act or remain passive, but both are choices. The man on the roof chose to remain passive and lost his life. We should not be passive participants in our life’s decisions. We have a unique opportunity to make our personal and political lives better. All we need is the will to get involved in either large or small ways.

    We owe it to our family and friends, but most of all, to ourselves to make our own lives as productive as we can in a humanistic and political way (most of us already do so in a monetary way). We certainly have the talent to do so; all we need is the will. We must at least make attempts at being active participants, although the results oftentimes will not necessarily be the ones we desire. As it has often been said, “We can and must try, for Judaism demands no less of us. As it is written in our Torah, in the Book of Deuteronomy 16, 18-19:9, “Justice, justice, justice shall you pursue that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God gives you.”

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