Jun 26, 2016

Choice and Accountability

There's really two big things that separates humans from other beasts.  We act, and we can be accountable and responsible for our actions.

I hear a lot of people (sometimes I even catch myself in the act) say something to the effect of: "he made me mad" or "he made me do it" or "he made me say it.".  To illustrate how we make our own choices, I ask further: "okay, if he made you say it, did he reach down your throat, squeeze your vocal cords and push air through them?".  They usually get the point that they are really in control of what they say -aside from physical force or threats.

Influence is another common justification for our actions.  We say something like: "well, I was taught this way or that way."  However, whether or not to follow the influence of others is still a choice we can reject.

We make choices every day.  What to eat. What to study. What to watch.  What types of clothing we wear.  We own those choices.  We may have been influenced by others, for example, we might be advised to eat a donut, but ultimately the choice is ours.  We should learn to control ourselves and own our choices, to do what's right and avoid doing what we know is wrong.

Often times, what we keep on choosing becomes habitual.  We stop thinking about it and we just act.  This can be said to be an automatic action that we really didn't choose in the present: however, it is exactly the result of past choices that we ARE responsible for.

Sometimes we need to revisit the habitual actions we do and evaluate whether or not we should be doing those things, or are doing them for the right reasons.  Sometimes we do things based upon incomplete or incorrect premises.

Are we being affected by things that we should not be?  That's a choice.

One of the best choices I made was to go on a mission.  I had a lot of influence both ways in this decision.  My employer at the time encouraged me not to go.  He even gave me a pay increase that I believed at the time was trying to entice me to stay.  I decided that it was the right choice for me and my life is forever changed because of it.  The skills I learned on my mission has affected me almost every day in the workplace, in the home and in my everyday dealings with people.  Could I have acquired those skills another way?  Probably, but the way we learn to apply our choices matters.  I wouldn't trade the mission experiences I have gained for anything.

It wasn't only choosing to go on a mission that made the difference for me.  It was every little choice I made while on my mission, the choice to get up every morning and study.  It was the choice to work hard, sweat, bleed and tear in service to others.

Making good choices results in good consequences.  In contrast, making bad choices  leads to bad consequences.  Whatever choice we make, we are bound by nature to its consequence.  Bad choices can limit or eliminate future choice making ability.

 I believe that we will be blessed for making good choices, for correcting ourselves in the bad choices we make, and for trying our best to recognize both good and bad choices.


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