You know who you are when you recognize the choices you have made.

It has occurred to me that I and many of my human species make a mistake in confusing what we want and how we feel with the choices we make. We were “tired, sad, or angry” or we were “trying to get home” or we were “late for an appointment” or we “just wanted to feel better”. We simply want and feel and are propelled along. We might even think that we have avoided making any choices at all: Even refusing to choose is a choice. If you turn your back on someone who you have blocked, be it in the aisle of the bus, or in the path towards change you have made a choice. It might even be yourself who you have chosen to ignore.

Human beings can ignore a lot if they can soothe themselves. In the end it may even be that which defines us. That might seem very unfair when all we are trying to do is feel better but it is a mistake to think it is any less our responsibility when we fail as a result. We have so many examples in history: The waves of humanity careening towards a wrong choice, a choice that would in the long run cause more suffering than all the discomfort they had hoped to avoid by looking away.

If we can become practiced in recognizing the choices we make, allowing ourselves to evaluate our mistakes and learn from them, taking responsibility and making a concerted effort to try something different while, without prejudice or envy, applauding good choices and even adopting them, we have a chance of being defined as heroes instead individuals who were part of the mass who did nothing but went along with the causes of suffering.

That sounds a bit radical. I don’t mean it to be at all. It really is very simple. There is no objective truth to wave like a flag for most of us. This is a good thing. Our choices can be as small as allowing an idea that floats into our mind while making coffee, to be explored a bit, because we are aware of it, even if it will come to nothing and we have so much to do and those extra minutes sipping coffee in bed would be easier. We can choose to try, to think and to consider.

Finally, thank you to the young woman who offered me a seat on the bus yesterday. You know who you are.

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