I have been thinking a lot about the idea of choice. This comes largely from the current policy of separating children from their parents at the border, but also from my work at the bedside in the hospital. We all have choices. We get to choose how much we are aware of what is happening around us, both in our homes and communities and on a national and international level. We get to choose how and where we get our information. We get to choose if we vote and for whom we vote. Our choices have consequences. In the US, we rarely get half of the eligible voters to vote. This means that the government we have does not really reflect the people – it’s a reflection of the majority of the people who made the choice to vote. There are consequences to that choice that will remain in effect for my lifetime. Sometimes, the choices we make affect others in ways we never anticipated. Sometimes, they affect us in ways we didn’t expect.
On a more personal level, we make choices everyday that will have consequences on our bodies, minds and spirits. What we eat today, the alcohol we drink today, the cigarette we smoke today, the thoughts we think, the people we fill our lives with…. These things affect our tissues, affect our immune systems, affect our beings. They are part of the puzzle that informs our wellness over our lifetime. Spending too much time on social media, or reading things that scare us, or walking around angry, or staying in a toxic relationship or work environment all have long term impacts on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. It’s easy to say only one more day, only 1 beer, or only today I will eat this donut or whatever your vise may be. It’s easy to think about it only in the moment. Would we make different choices if we considered the long-term impact of our choices on ourselves, our neighbors, our loved ones. Would we still choose to have that one more cigarette if we accepted that it was another step in the direction of chronic illness which will affect us, our spouse, our friends….
I am a believer in balance and finding the middle ground. Sometimes a donut is the right answer, but do we consider the short and long-term consequences to ourselves and to our loved ones and to strangers when we make our choices? Sometimes, it’s more complicated that we first assume and the right answer is not as clear.