Of Choice and Circumstance

by | May 12, 2023

Sprinting a quarter mile sucks.

I was reminded how bad it sucks at the Baltimore County track meet last night while watching my son Konrad compete in the 400 meter relay.

He made me proud as he dug deep to fend off a challenger down the final 100 meter stretch.

That digging paid off too.

The push from behind drove him to a PR – that is, he set a personal record for the non-gym rats among you – on his leg of the relay.

Well done, my boy.

What makes me most proud is that he chose to dig deep.

He didn’t have to. I ran the same event as a Freshman in high school and I distinctly remember choosing differently.

And it’s the choices we make that define us.

Our choices determine that definition, though today it seems like our choices don’t matter.

I believe they do.

My promise was to share with you the view of a radically self-determined individual.

Now it’s time to make good on that promise.

An Obligation, Not a Right

I realize every choice is made under complex and totally unique sets of individual circumstances. I can never fully know the circumstances of someone else.

But I do know mine better than anyone else. And that knowledge obligates me to balance them against how I want to be defined.

Note that I did not say it creates a right. Rights are one of those Idols of the Theater I referenced yesterday.

That’s a radical notion in America, for sure. All you hear about is “my rights this” and “my rights that” and whether those rights come from God or government.

So, when I claim that self-determination is an obligation, not a right, it at least looks like I gave it some thought.

You choose for yourself. Only you can weigh the circumstances of your choices. Those circumstances include the government under which you live.

And as we move from one equilibrium to the next the circumstances of government are set to change dramatically no matter what we choose.

My Happy Place

The choices we make today have a big impact on what the next equilibrium looks like.

Personally, I want one that honors self-determination balanced only against that same obligation in everyone else.

I am aware how impossible that sounds.

The scale of self-determination’s enemy completely dwarfs the power of the individuals that seem to care.

But the purity of this obligation makes it a value shared by more people than you would think.

Today, it spontaneously drives people to randomly strike, demonstrate, and riot.

They have no idea they’ve already enlisted in a cause. But as the numbers grow, the rioters will look more like battalions with front lines everywhere.

Those front lines will invariably press hard against the center of power’s need for control. It’s a desperate, tenuous, and unnatural position.

The constant effort required to maintain that position will invariably break like one more straw on a camel’s back. It will leak like a Dutch dike. The cost of maintaining authority will rapidly outstrip the resources required to maintain it.

At that point, all it will take is one more little break.

Then choices will really matter.

So, from my point of view, my preferred equilibrium is not impossible.

All I have to do is dig deep and choose.

I hope I delivered on my first promise.

The second promise I made was to tell you what this man is thinking.

Today, their king gives them nothing but a sense of common history. Yet they still bow to the throne.

If you need someone over you, I don’t need you next to me.

Think Free. Be Free.

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