Choices

This morning, I sat down in front of my TV with my morning cup of coffee and turned on the news.  Now usually, I don’t really watch the news, its just on making background noise while I attempt to wake up and get my day started.  It’s usually the same old stuff anyway, right?  However, this morning, something in that newscast made my ears perk up.   I was sitting on my couch, cursing a knitting project that was sitting in my lap when the newscaster began rambling on about a police shooting that happened in San Pablo last night.  Apparently, a police officer shot a man who attempted to run during a routine traffic stop.  The man had a gun in the waistband of his pants, he reached for it and pointed it at the officer, and the officer shot him.  While I’m saddened that someone had to lose their life last night, that wasn’t what bothered me about the newscasters report.  What made my ears perk up were the words he used to begin his report.  When he began his report, he said, “An officer was forced to shoot a man…”

My mind began to churn as I heard this.  The use of the word forced was nagging at me.  I believe that forced is not the right word.  Now granted, it is a word I don’t really like and I try not to use it very often, but in a few circumstances it is an appropriate word.  However, in this case, had I been the newscaster, I would have said, “An officer chose to shoot a man…”

Now before you go off getting all huffy about the injustices of the police system (if your mind is going there), hear me out.  This is not about that, I’m not saying either man was justified in what they did.  This is about choice and the power of our choices.  When the newscaster used the word forced in his news report, he painted a picture of no choices. Did he do it to cast the police officer in a better light, its possible, but that’s for another day.

Everyday we are faced with dozens and dozens of choices.  Some are easy to make, while others are more difficult, and each one comes with a set of consequences, good and/or bad.  It is those consequences that drive our choices.  I choose to go to work in the morning (or evening) because I’ll be fired if I don’t.  I choose to pay my bills because my lights will be cut off if I don’t.  These are a few simple examples.  But in the case of our fellow officer above, he had to make a more difficult choice, to shoot or to be shot, the consequences devastating in either case.  But to say he was forced implies that no choice was available to him, when in fact there was.  He had the choice to live or to die.

When faced with a situation such as this one, we might think we have no choice.  But that’s simply not true.  As humans, we are programmed to make choices that ensure our survival.  While we might not think of them as choices since they happen so quickly and unconsciously, deep in our minds that choice to survive is being made.  Physiologically when we’re placed in a stressful situation, adrenaline courses through our system, bringing us the choice to stay and fight or to run away.  I imagine it could have been our deep-seated choice to survive that drove the actions of these two men last night.  The offender, placed in a stressful situation, chose to get out of the car and run.  The officer chose to chase after him and tackle him to the ground.  The offender chose fight and to pull his gun and aim it at the officer, and the officer chose to survive and pulled his own gun to shoot.  We can even say the officer made a choice to shoot to kill as opposed to shooting to wound.

Our ability to choose is powerful.  This ability gives us power when we think we have none.  Now I don’t want you to go out and get a big head over this and I don’t believe anyone is better than anyone else, but every single one of us in this world possesses this power and I believe it’s a power that’s very hard to strip away.  It levels the playing field so to speak.  Let me explain.

Remember how I said that each choice we make comes with a set of consequences.  These consequences aren’t necessarily good or bad, they just are.  However, what I believe some of us fail to realize is that these consequences don’t just impact the person or persons involved; they impact others around us as well.  Lets take my example of the police officer and the offender.  The police officer chose to shoot to kill.  The primary consequence of that action is that now one man is dead and the other is alive.  But lets go beyond that.  The offender most likely had family and friends.  Because the officer chose to shoot and kill the offender, the offender’s family and friends will now no longer have him in their lives.  The officer’s choice has taken a possible son, or brother, or friend from another.  Because he chose to shoot, the officer’s family has the opportunity to live another day with him.  Because the offender chose to draw his gun, his family and friends will bear the grief of his passing.  I’m not saying that either parties choice was bad or wrong, I’m saying that the power of their choices has now impacted others outside of just the two of them.

Let’s take this a step further.  Let us assume that the offender’s family and friends are now filled with grief at the loss of this person.  They might choose to express their grief to others around them, whose energy and emotions might or might not change as a result.  Then as those people go on with their lives, those emotions might influence the choices they make for themselves and with others.  Which then can affect more people, and so and so forth.  The point I’m trying to make here, is that the choice of one person can have the ability to influence and impact many.  So, when someone says to me that they lack the power to influence and do things on a larger scale, I remind them that the choices they make daily give them the power to affect many.

So yes, had I been the newscaster, I would have said, “An officer chose to shoot a man…”  Not because I feel the actions of the officer were necessarily good or bad, but because it puts him on the same playing field as the rest of us, he is no more or less powerful than you or I.  He exercised a power that all of us have, and now the consequences of his choice are rippling through others.  How it affects those others, well… only time will tell.

 

Lotus Blossom

As 2011 got underway, I was inspired to begin writing again.  For some time, I had silenced my words, keeping them buried inside my own head.  For months, they’ve been fighting to get out, to express themselves.  So a few weeks ago, I picked up a pen and found some paper, and I began to write.  As my pen began scribbling across the paper, I thought, what if I could share my words with others?  What if my words could inspire thought and create dialogue amongst ourselves?

Therefore, this blog is born; a place where I can share my words and my inspiration with others.  Some of them may be more creative or silly in nature, while others are serious and analytical.  My words are never meant to harm or hurt, only to inspire conversations with self and others.

For my first post, I thought I’d write a little bit about the title of my blog: How the Lotus Blossom Blooms.  Let us start with the question, how does a real lotus blossom bloom?  Lotus plants begin deep in the soil of still ponds or rivers.  Their stalks grow up through the water and their leaves float on top of the water.  When its time for the flower to bloom, it unfolds itself slowly, opening itself up to the Sun’s rays.  Now what does that have to do with my blog?

The lotus and how it comes to be has developed great meaning to me.  It is a symbol of selfless beauty and enlightenment.  It is strength as it fights it way to the surface of the water, where it opens and embraces the light and love of the sun.  Its roots keep it supported in the earth as it reaches for the sun and the heavens.  It is fed from our mother earth and from the light of sun and it is at peace with itself.  Throughout the past year, I’ve found myself looking to the lotus, and embracing what it is and what it can stand for.  A part of me wants to be that lotus blossom, and this blog is one of many ways in which I can bloom.  Writing is a part of my roots and is my meditation.  It helps keeps me stable and supported as I look for a higher level of understanding in this world.  It clears my mind and frees my spirit.  I truly hope that many of you can join me on this path of growth and enlightenment.

 

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