What does it mean when we say, “We are free to choose, and willingly accept responsibility for our choices?” Today, I’ll share some of my thoughts on this subject, but I also hope you won’t take my word for it. I invite you to explore this topic on your own and come to your own conclusions.
When I read those words, “free to choose,” I ask myself, “What does ‘free’ really mean?” I invite you to take a moment and ask yourself that question. “What does the word ‘free’ mean to me?” I invite you to give yourself, if you so choose, a moment to ponder and see what you come up with. Perhaps you can ask your kids…Well, my friend, what did you come up with?
As I’ve pondered this word, what comes to me is that freedom is not really free– there is usually a price for everything, even if we are not the ones who pay for it. At least, that is true from my experience. If I walk into a grocery store and take a sample of food that someone gives to me for free, is the sample really free? Or is it free for me? Someone had to pay for the food. I also think of it this way: it is like picking up a stick. What happens to the other end of a stick when we pick it up? It goes with a stick. No matter where we take the end of the stick we picked up, the other end goes with it. The only way the other end will not go with it is if we break it; but then it wouldn’t be the same stick. We are free to pick up that stick and move it wherever we want, but we resist the truth when we say that the other end of the stick cannot go with it. It doesn’t work that way.
The same goes for our choices each and every day. Yes we are free to choose many things, but we are not free to decide what the consequences will be – positive or negative. Now I ask myself and you, “Is the freedom to choose really free?” Well, my conclusion is yes and no. We are free to choose whatever we choose, AND along with that we must be willing to accept the result that comes from our decisions, whether they be negative or positive. The same freedom that allows us to choose also gives us the opportunity to accept the positive or negative outcome of our choices. In my experience, we as humans generally don’t really value something that is truly ‘free’ because we haven’t had to work for it. Let’s ask ourselves, “What happens with a child who is told, ‘You won’t be able to have that (badly wanted item) unless you earn every dollar and pay for it yourself?’” How does that child, after having worked hard and earned every penny for said item, then proceed to care for it?
The same goes for the ability to choose freely and to learn freely from the consequences of our decisions. Our freedom to decide for ourselves is really only valuable to us when we realize that it isn’t really free, at least not in the true sense of the word. But it is a precious gift and opportunity to learn from our good and bad decisions and to make better choices next time. If we ignore the consequences of our negative decisions, what happens? It is my observation that we as humans usually end up repeating the same mistake over and over until we learn from it and strive to live more in harmony with our true self and core values.
A key conclusion from this whole process is this: We are not really free until we accept responsibility for our choices. Accepting responsibility increases our freedom as we learn from and apply what we learn from our mistakes and do a little better next time.
Thanks for listening in on my little thought process. I’m glad we did this! What do you say, my friend? What does it mean when you hear, “We are free to choose and willingly accept responsibility for our choices?”