Looking at the variety of posts on Facebook these past few days and discussions I’ve had with family and friends reminds me how valuable choice is. So many people turned out to vote in the election, many spending hours in line to be able to have their say. And the result was an election that involved a high level of participation from the people in this country. Whether you like the outcome or not, I’m sure you were pleased to have a voice in it.
Choice isn’t always an easy thing to live with, though. Too many options, or even just a second option, in some cases is irritating at worst and sometimes just a distraction. For example, my family lives in Chicago, where attendance at your local public school isn’t automatic. You are faced with a variety of choices — public schools that require testing, public schools that grant access by lottery, independent schools, parochial schools, schools that cost more than you paid in college tuition. Our decision would be far easier if we had none at all.
I know people who walked into the polls on Tuesday still mulling over their choices. It’s not an easy thing to have to choose when you don’t feel certain, and the potential for regret is high.
And how many times do you find yourself flipping through 100+ channels on TV or spending a few hours watching old MTV videos on YouTube? Choice can be a time suck when not put to good use.
But despite my quarrels with choice, I’m still very grateful to have one. Choice forces me to be a better person, to think about consequences, to motivate myself, to inform myself so that I can make the best decisions for me and anyone who’ll be affected by my choice. Choice encourages tolerance. When you understand the implication choice has on a person’s life, you have a basis for seeing why they might take one path vs. another. This doesn’t always happen, because choice can be abused. But the potential is there. Each individual just needs to embrace it.