Choice, Where the Rubber Meets the Road

It turns out that some of the most difficult things to discuss are the most worthwhile. Sometimes that’s because of the complexity involved, sometimes not. On the present subject, in truth, though there appears to be the result of a high level of complexity, I don’t believe there really is a great deal of difficulty or complexity at all.

There has been a tendency in circles surrounding things mental and activities resulting from them, to discuss them in terms of “nature and nurture.” I submit that this ignores a principle consideration which cannot be ignored if the discussion is to be complete.

That matter worth pondering is choice. Permit me to explain.

When a person is born, it can be assumed that certain things are innate to that person, that they are, in some fashion, “built in.” Put another way, they fit within the “nature” part of the standard discussion about which we’re speaking.

There are some things, it is argued—and likely reasonably so—that are “learned.” They are the result of what can be argued to be conditioning or “nurture.”

To be clear, nurture is not just a result of what parents or guardians teach their children via whatever means. So a child may “learn” from the actions or words of not just his or her direct caregiver(s), but as a result of normal or abnormal interaction with those around that child.

Further, a child may—in fact likely will—continue to learn from the acts and statements of others around that child. This is so truly the case, that it’s obviously not just true for children, but for people in general. I have long said, and I know I am far from the first to do so, that it is hoped that a person will continue to learn until the day they pass off the planet (and beyond in my view).

From the above comes the argument that the constituent components of the “human psyche” are a matter of those things with which they are born and those things which, through various means, they learn.

I am not in any wise arguing the likelihood that what is said about this is incorrect. It is almost certain that it is the case, in point of fact. What I am saying is that this is not the “end of the discussion” in my mind.

If by nature or nurture, a person is, or “learns” to be a serial killer, barring subsequent action on that person’s part, that state or knowledge is of little consequence. The same applies to any other “considered malady” and to activities that are not in any sense considered to be problematic in nature.

Consider the tendency on the part of the majority of humanity to write with a particular hand. Think about the ability of a given individual to tie laced shoes. Imagine a world where folks could not draw or convey meaning through imagery or text.

Whether the things in the former paragraph are a matter of that which a person is “given” at birth, or things learned is somewhat beside the point. And to be fair, in almost every case (if not in every case), they are likely not a matter of one or the other, but of both.

But there is another consideration for anything a person does or is, that consideration is choice. If a person chooses to stop breathing, inasmuch as he or she is able to do so, he or she will cease to be in his or her current form. At the very least, that individual will be placed in a state where they are caused involuntarily to breath.

Short of certain “mandatory functions” though, people can and do make choices concerning the things upon which they will “follow through.” Even the functions that are seen as involuntary can cease so to be. And, unless action is taken on the part of others, can result in the death of the person no longer able or willing to take those actions.

There are those who argue that there is a “compulsion” on the part of some who behave in certain ways, and I’m not in a position to agree or disagree, except in saying that there are very few if any such things in my existence. Past such a statement though, I cannot argue that others do not feel compelled toward given activities.

It is further true, that folks are “built differently.” My youngest child, for example, has by all appearances an entirely different “view of the world” than do the majority of humans.

Even so, it must be understood that he has the “right and ability” to make choices, just as the rest of us do, albeit from a different perspective. And make them he must.

In case you’re wondering where I’m going with this, let me now provide some clarity.

Simply, whether a person is born a kleptomaniac or made one is beside the point. That person must make choices on what he or she chooses to “do with” what he or she is, is not, has learned, or has not.

Though it can be argued this applies as much to issues of utility as to issues of morality, I see no way to make it not apply to issues of rectitude and the lack thereof. And that is regardless the source of morality or rectitude.

If a society decides that unjustified killing is wrong, serial killers, or frankly, one time killers who kill without justification accepted and allowed by society, must make a choice to kill or not. If they make the choice to kill, they will suffer the consequences of so doing.

The choice by others to excuse—or not—the behavior of those who flout the norms and regulations of society is no less a choice than that of an unjustified killer to unjustifiably kill.

I want to make it plain that, your choice to continue to write with the hand with which you do so, is exactly that. Does it matter largely to society? Not so much.

Equally, your choice to believe in a Higher Power, is a matter of your decisions so to do, or not.

The “final question,” though, is, “How will society react and respond to your choices.” It is not, “Did you, or did you not make a choice or series thereof?”

As I suppose is pretty obvious, I could continue to write on this subject for some time. The “problem” is that I have reached my time and word limit. As such, continuing on this topic must be the matter for another article.

As usual, thanks for reading, and I hope your day is or has been a good one.

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