A Matter of Choice   Leave a comment

A recent short car journey had me catch a snippet from an NPR program in their “ Hidden Brain” series. The episode was entitled “The Choices Before Us: Can Fewer Options Lead To Better Decisions?” In the few minutes that I listened, I heard someone living in East Berlin at the time the wall came down. She observed that after they got used to the excitement of a vastly increased number of consumer choices they began to notice the possibility that they were noticing a decrease in quality. Another contribution came from a lady whose parents met each other on their wedding night.  Although her friends always expressed their horror at such an idea she observed that her parents were happily married and gave their children a great family life. All this served to pose the question as to whether the assumption that the more options we have the better off we are may in fact not be true.

Each year our church begins the year with 21days of prayer and fasting as a way to spend some more focused time seeking God for His plans for the year to come. Many of the fasting practices involve choosing to reduce on the number of items on our meal tables or alternatives for entertainment and hence reducing our choices. Many share how beneficial this time is to their mental and physical health.

In his book “ A Celebration of Discipline” Richard Foster says that the practice of fasting reveals the things that control us. We quickly discover the things that are most difficult to surrender, and these are the things that subconsciously control our lives. 

One way to look at the challenge of SIP is that we have been forced to fast from many of our choices. We cannot have the range of shopping opportunities, we cannot choose from the same number of entertainment opportunities and the list goes on. We find this really hard, but as a friend of mine said recently in a zoom small group meeting “My suffering is direct result of my privilege.” If we did not have so many choices we would not find it so hard to do without them.

I wonder if the very fact that some people are finding blessing in the slower pace of life, and the increase in time with families, is at least an indirect result of the fewer choices we have as to how we spend our time. 

Many however they are not so fortunate. They did not have many choices in the first place and so perhaps they are experiencing fewer changes. Perhaps as we ponder how the decrease in the number of choices available to us has enriched our lives, we can consider how we can build on that enrichment. Also, might it be that if we did not have to take quite so much time making choices, we might be able to give more time to helping those who are really suffering without choices?

Posted May 28, 2020 by jolm15 in Uncategorized

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