If one single thing distinguishes this new millennium in my mind, it will be the active and fully conscious exercise of choice. It is only the intensity of choice that can break the oppositional pull of dualism, provide the synthesis between contradictions, handle, if never entirely eliminate dilemmas, and move the human spirit to the next phase of development.
Much personal and group struggle over the centuries has been about choice – towards territorial liberation, away from imprisonment of caste and class limitations, towards the right to create one’s own personal and professional identity, towards and away from the right to communicate with God directly in whatever form God takes for us, including the absence of a God figure. Choice also takes us towards the capacity to read and write according to our taste, to parent or not, to move throughout the world or nation with ease, and to love our neighbors as ourselves – or not.
If I want to experience extremes, for example, I can always find a “playmate:” a mouse for my cat or a cat for my mouse, even if I know in advance that in this particular game the mouse eventually dies. As human beings we play cat and mouse for each other all the time: sometimes I am the cat, sometimes I am the mouse. We both experience the thrill and horror of being both predator and prey, and in so doing understand a little more about the nature of our particular form of reality.
It is choice that permits accountability, claims responsibility, ends victimization and blame, and opens us to the possibility of fulfillment. When I exercise conscious choice I no longer blame another for my fate or misfortune, nor do I let another steal my freedom. My actions become heroic rather than weak or shameful, and yet I do stand up, even if it means the ultimate sacrifice of my life. The question is, can I stand up without having to die for choosing, and can I still receive my “reward in heaven” if I choose not to take another life or even my own?
The awareness of choice literally redefines history; the conscious exercise of choice transforms it. Discover the choices you are making now: the unconscious ones as well as those at the forefront of your awareness. When we reclaim our authority to choose what we experience, we can laugh at our errors of action or judgment and change them, and we can revel in our great successes. We can claim both fully.
Choice does not necessarily mean the immediate end of horror, nor does it necessarily mean the end of organized religious expression or social order, but it does mean and it does hold out the promise and possibility of fulfillment at every level.