Friday, September 02, 2011

The Power of Choice - Part 1


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Last weeks Parsha begins

רְאֵה, אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם--הַיּוֹם: בְּרָכָה, וּקְלָלָה

" Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.."

The Hebrew words Re'eh does not translate to Behold, rather it means See or Look..in the singular form.
On the other hand "before you" is written in plural Hebrew form.
This discrepancy is noted by many Commentaries.

I think there's a very simple explanation and it touches upon a very simple existential idea.
While the Torah lays out the choice for all of us, it also recognizes the fact that Choice is ultimately a very very personal...well choice.

This power to choose, this complete autonomy is a power unrecognized and barely utilized. Its power is terrifying.

Do you realize that you have the power to make God himself disappear?
What that means is that God only exists through your choice to make him a reality, even though it rarely is a conscience choice.
That's power.
But it's unrealized power, because we're terrified of the fact of this pure and simple truth.

Every time you drive down the street, you have the absolute free will to take others lives.
You also have the free will to end your own life.

It's so terrifying, that we run as fast as we can from that reality.
We would rather live with the choices others make.
We would rather just react and be led by others choices.

That power puts you at the absolute center of the universe. The power to shape the entire universe according to your perceptions and ideas makes you the central being of all that exists.
If only people would live with that reality instead of making themselves extras on a film set whose equilibriums are constantly on other peoples coattails.
How can anyone hurt you when their entire existence is known to you only by what's being filtered through your mind and perception?

On the flip side another reason why people run from the power of choice is because the thought that other people have this power and autonomy is unnerving.
Because we are so dependent upon others for our choices and well being we take comfort in the fact that we could control others like some kind of "abused becomes abuser" arrangement.
So the thought that others have this power terrifies us as well. The thought that our children have the absolute power of choice to reject us and all we've taught them is unthinkable.
And so we trust fellow drivers on the road not to exercise their power of choice and kill us.

So we all live in this numb zone where choices are made for us and we don't have to make any ourselves. And anytime someone says something to upset our beliefs we get so unnerved and unsettled that we start to rethink everything we believe, because after all these aren't our beliefs by choice.

So the Torah looks every individual in the eye and says.
The power is all yours.
No one has any right or power to touch this free will of yours.

CHOOSE....life...(or death)

Because that's what YOU choose to do...for no other reason.




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