I used to say, "I'm all about choice," until I found myself in a relationship with an individual who offers "no choice." There are no words for the thoughts and feelings that slammed my brain like a tsunami, as that man would stand, half shrugging his shoulders, while saying, "What can I do?" For some; choice seems to be just too much personal responsibility. This has given me a great opportunity to think and observe what our society has lost because people no longer make choices, thus lack commitment. It's as if we just go through life adding 10 or 20 percent of this or that to our already half full, half stacked wagon of baggage. Relationships are based upon the acceptance of past baggage rather than building a future. Of course, everyone has a past, but most folks now, drag it into their present. I'm not talking about children from a previous relationship, most baggage draggers just use their kids as a cover to maintain control, or keep the drama stirred. What I've noticed through a few generations now, of being all about choice, is the transition that has taken place, as each generation ricochets off the standard and example of the last one. I still believe in choice, I'm just careful who I say it to! My land radio show was entitled "Choose Life."
Some people take full responsibility for their choices, even for their not so responsible choices. Many of the men of my father's generation made quite a comfortable living, acquired and amassed with a high school education, OJT, and determination toward their committed choices. Regardless of how they came into adulthood, they made clear and concise choices to go forward, accomplish, acquire, and amass. They made choices and they were committed to those choices. When things didn't work out, they picked up the pieces and made the choice to rebuild. Of course, there were exceptions, but that was the rule of the generation that arrived before WWII. There are those who still make clear and concise choices and "pay the fiddler" as they go, but they are clearly no longer mainstream. Our society no longer insists that anyone make clear choices, as a matter of fact, commitment to any long term choice usually now comes at a cost to the parents or society in general.
My generation, yes the boomers, we did a great deal to transition from the choice of lifelong commitment, to we'll see how this goes . . . Our generation was the first to openly cohabitate, yet also caused the divorce rate to skyrocket. Obviously that statistical equation has some unnamed variables! For the most part, we had a little more education than high school and careers were extremely important, but we women followed the examples set years earlier by the "Rosie the Riveters" and made the choice to have it all. Rosie the Riveters were married to men who were committed to them, feminists, unfortunately, were not! Relationships failed and the men maintained their careers and their responsibilities, but most dragged their last relationship into the next relationship. So, as men thought they could have a new start while still keeping an ex happy, the exes continued to dominate two households while moving on socially, and the new women determined careers and kids would come before men. Although we may have grown up in secret dysfunction, the boomers openly made dysfunctional, the standard. Choice was no longer applied to direction and building of acquiring and amassing, but rather to escape and "new" beginnings became mired with accumulated baggage. Rather than making and sticking with a choice for life, choice became redefined to "finding ourselves."
While we boomers spent our twenties and part of our thirties, choosing to find ourselves, only to discover we weren't so thrilled with who we found ourselves to be, also discovered our kid's formative years were over. In the starting over with accumulated baggage, our kids did seem to make one choice and that was to just start later . . . and of course, test the waters before even considering a commitment, if at all. So many programs were afforded to single mothers going to school and live in boyfriends no longer interfered with state "benefits." Marriage would only rob a young woman of assistance and a young man of, well . . .being a man. Besides, a divorced baby boomer mom, usually had a basement to move back into, or a spare room. So, a couple of babies later, no real commitment, a "place to come home," and life just expands and continues for everyone with no real choices being made. Life just "happened" and babies just "came along."
Now, there is yet another generation. Between ancestral guilt and nearly unlimited borrowing opportunities, this generation can have it all by their early twenties, with minimal accountability of reality. Boys literally do not become men until, well until their mothers stop paying their bills and feeding them. They do often, however; become fathers long before that. Moms are so condoning and cool, girls no longer want their own space. It seems the right of passage for young women these days is motherhood and the right to speak her mind.
Our society seems to have taken the centuries old approach of the family continuing to expand and work together, passing the torch of responsibility with the right of passage, to celebrating a failure to launch. The right of passage to adulthood used to involve a conscious choice of commitment with no turning back and NO "Alternate Plan B." Commitment or consequences used to follow choices. Now, for the most part, our society seems to encourage the choice to not really build a future, but rather just exist, often dependent upon others. Choices are still being made, but they are not choices of forward momentum and aspiration. We are living longer and accomplishing less. We are choosing stagnation, dependence and victimhood, rather than life!
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy children may live: Torah of Holy Scripture
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