To what extent are individuals responsible for their choices, given the powerful influence of our environment and world? Example: Does someone who drinks excessively to suppress emotions and trauma that has happened in their life have the same right to a liver transplant?
Each of us is ultimately responsible for the choices we make. But choices are often like wishes, if wishes and genies were real, and for the sake of this argument they are. Your choices are not always well informed and often don’t result in the way you expected. You rub the lamp and the genie pops out. You want to be rich. You ask for all the money in the world. The genie gives you all the money in the world. Wish granted. Financial ruin and chaos descends upon the word. Or maybe you only ask for a million dollars, the genie takes the money from a bank, and the police show up to take you to jail. Not what you wanted? Of course not. That’s what genies do with your wishes. Genies are pricks.
Choices are full of just as many hidden consequences. Often the choice you make is influenced by friends, family, or multi-national corporations with billion-dollar advertising campaigns. The whole family wants to go out to eat, but that’s expensive, so you go someplace cheap and get horribly unhealthy, high calorie food. It seemed like a good choice. You want to eat healthy so you choose palm oil, huge sections of tropical forest get deforested to plant oil palms. Shit, bad choice again. You give up soda to drink water, huge beverage companies spend lots of dollars to get you to buy their bottled water. I could go on, but I won’t.
If you’re a heavy drinker and your doctor tells you to stop, but you don’t and your liver fails… probably you shouldn’t be first in line to get a new liver. You made a bad choice. But someone else is going to have to make the choice as to who gets that liver. And what their criteria is for making that choice probably won’t be so clear. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t make choices. We should, and we should try to make the best most informed choices that we can. That’s not always easy and often the consequences of those choices are intentionally veiled from us. That person in the example above; maybe they believe that by drinking as much as they do they are keeping the local brewery in business and thus helping keep their brother-in-law employed. It’s complicated.
My basic stance is still, you are responsible for the choices you make and you are responsible for the results of your actions. Perhaps we should all spend more time thinking about those consequences.
*** I just got tired of reading the same old responses to the weekly questions and thought, what-the-hell, I’m going to write something they haven’t seen before.