Election day is one of the few days in American society where we truly feel the weight of our choices. Amongst the chaos, division, and ugliness of the political process, Election Day is a celebration of choice. The power and responsibility of discernment.
In America, we believe expressing your choice on Election Day is a civic duty. A way to make your voice heard and to express your value-set. It is often upheld as an opportunity to enact change.
The truth is that all day, every day we are making important choices. Decisions that affect our society, our organizations, and our relationships. Each moment is a microcosm of the power of choice, its own little Election Day. Sometimes the choices are more subtle. But they matter just the same. As we vote our choices today, here are a few thoughts on the process of making choices and the impact thereafter.
Making A Choice
There are a few things that go into making a choice. It essentially requires options and freedom. The very definition of freedom we use is “the ability to make choices”.
But why do we make the choices we make. What leads one half of the country toward one choice and the other to a completely different one?
One thing we cannot hide from is the reality we make all of our choices with a certain level of bias. There is a certain amount of predisposition behind our choices. We have made and reinforced assumptions, developed patterns of thought, and chosen to see certain elements of reality while ignoring others.
No matter who you vote for (or what choice you make in everyday circumstances), there is a significant effect of confirmation bias. For example, we are much more likely to make choices that validate our previous choices.
The other significant factor in making choices is our values. Whether we name, acknowledge, or ignore our values, they still drive our decision making. Values are the filter we discern and decide through. The best way to make the best choice for you is to do a deep dive into naming your values. Our poor choices come when we opt for a superficial manifestation of our values. Or buy into a lie about how to meet our values. Or adopt an ineffective strategy for how to realize our values.
Our best decisions come out of a sense of self-awareness, acknowledging reality (including the influence of bias), and a commitment to seeking the truth. Our values are the method by which we participate in truth.
And so, today, like everyday, we will do our best to make choices and to deal with the repercussions of that choice. Every choice has consequences and one of the complications of living in a community is that collective choices have complex implications.
As such, we often find blame and accusation a useful tool when lamenting a collective choice that does not align with our own or does not seem to reflect our values.
This is unfortunate. While it is a reality that all of our choices affect each other, the decision of others is not an excuse for me to continue to make poor choices. And so, as disappointed as we might be (and half of the country is undoubtedly going to be disappointed today, the reality is that each choice sets up the next one. We cannot go back but we can move forward.