Everything is Not a Choice, Thank Gods
I find myself blessed to have a number of friends and a number of values and not so many friends who share my values. This is just fine most days of the week. I can be as Spain before the inquisition, enjoying a real peace among people who are really different from me. Occasionally something gets to me and I write a post like this.
One point of difference between me and many of my hip friends is the matter of choice. In particular my distaste for the predominant idea that we are, and aught to be free to make our own individual choice to our own individual benefit about every single thing from personal sized ice cream treats to whether or not to care for a dying relative.
I should be clear that when I say, my hip friends, I am talking mostly of urban, middle/upper class, liberal/”radical”, twenty something (oops they are starting to turn 30) folks who experience white privilege. They are unfortunately a selfish and self righteous lot at times, having never had the benefit of being poor, except by choice in their bohemian years, which didn’t leave them with any of the cleverness or camaraderie or sense of duty that actual poverty does. And their only cultural experience is a whole lot of people in the same vacuum they are in hypothesizing about people they have never met in places they have never been.
This may seem harsh but I myself lived in a college town in the pacific northwest for 7 years, these people exist. I have met them. They are not bad just unlucky.
Suffice it to say, what I am about to complain about could be summed up as a cultural difference…except that many of the afore mentioned folks are very loud about how they are right and wiggle their way into all kinds of places where they spread the idea that the ways they act and think and do are right and good, just like their protestant forefathers. In this way the people who hold the values I abhor are sometimes representing places they themselves are not from.
I, at times, behave like a middle class shit head simply due to exposure in adulthood.
Anyways, I write today, as I sit in from work with a head cold, to say that it is my strong desire that each of us maintain obligations to one another. I do not want the bleak lonely so called freedom to choose to turn my back on family, on friends, on wilting plants or hurt animals. I am grateful I feel compelled to do things I do not feel like doing and if my future children would inherit that, I would feel proud.
I am not talking about coercion, oppression, the unjust distribution of guilt or shame in modernity, I am talking about simple responsibility, love and a feeling that we owe one another because we do.
Point in case: When my Dad brought me a surprise puppy a few years ago, I never questioned keeping him. It was horrible timing, my girlfriend at the time almost left me over it, an adult should not be given surprises of live animals etc. etc. etc. Still, I knew it was an act of love, I knew the resources it took for my Dad to acquire that puppy and what that means to a Grays Harbor County mill worker. The reason my girlfriend wanted to walk out at the sight of that little bundle was that she should have had a choice in the matter.To her way of thinking every person should have a say and choice in everything that happens to them.
Well I for one am grateful that not everything in my life is my own decision or who knows what a mess I would have made.
Some folks feel really strongly about everything being a choice because they were forced into terrible things. Thats not what I am talking about. I am talking about a belief system built on controlling people places and things (domination) that preemptively trains its children to always look out for number one. It’s one version of the american dream. I will have my little kingdom, my total control and no one will bother me and I won’t owe anyone anything.
In the case of the puppy it was settled when she got to make the choice to have the puppy be hers. Then we could keep him because she had chosen. In a world like this creative problem solving,however absurd the outcome, is often required.
She still has the puppy and I still have my strong opinions about how if a puppy shows up, you care for the puppy even if it means giving the puppy to your live in mate to keep peace in your home.
Where I come from people raised each others kids, took in their parents, bailed each other out of jail, kept the strays, fixed the neighbors fence,visited in-laws at holidays, gave away the last bite, went into debt for someone who would never pay you back….even if you hated the sons of bitches, even if you spent equal times out of earshot complaining and demanding to be seen as a martyr, you did these things because thats what people do.
In the backyard of my memory I am collecting babies that have sprung up feral out of all the tossed bathwater and this is one of them.
Thanks for reading, Ened