We have more choices and decisions to make in a day than any other humans in the history of the species. The assumption is that choice is good, although I wonder whether the fact that the small-ish grocery store in my neighbourhood has something like 200 linear feet of breakfast cereal for me to choose from really counts for that much in the long run.
At the beginning of the “Arab Spring” in 2010, some young people in Tunisia made the choice no longer to accept living in a dictatorship. Not only did they ultimately achieve their goal of toppling the dictatorship, but they inspired people in other countries in the Arab world to make similar choices.
The film Invictus, set in post-Apartheid South Africa, tells the story of the relationship between the new President Nelson Mandela and the captain of the national rugby team in the lead up to the world cup of Rugby in 1995. Mandela chose to forgive the people who had wronged him and to work at reconciliation and unity in the new South Africa. The rugby team captain chose to lay aside enough of his own history and assumptions to participate in Mandela’s project of racial unity.
In Tunisia, South Africa, and wherever you’re reading this, people make choices for and against freedom and fullness of life with mixed motivations, muddy understanding and analysis, and uncertain outcomes. South Africa today is hardly a bastion of racial harmony and peace, and most of the gains made the Arab Spring have been rolled back. Nevertheless, at every step, individuals and communities make choices for or against justice, peace, life, and love.
We cherish what we perceive to be our autonomy and our ability to make whatever choices we want. Important choices have consequences – not only for we who make them, but for all the constellations of people we affect. Choice – including the choice to do nothing – bears moral weight.
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