Whatever happened to Discrimination?

I sometimes think it`s so sad that the word `Discrimination` has such negative overtones these days. There was a time when, to call someone discriminating was a great compliment. It meant that they knew how to make good choices. And this is a quality which is greatly needed these days. Choice and the freedom to choose are the things so many people desire aren`t they? To be able to choose is one of the ways we demonstrate that we have arrived. It means we have control and autonomy. To be able, for instance, to have that operation at a time and place of `my choosing` is what many of the upwardly mobile aspire to.

But we all know how complicated choosing can sometimes be. And the choices we make give away something about the values we hold. They tell others about how we see ourselves and the world and they have consequences for others.For example, the vast choice of goods that I expect to see in the supermarket is a consequence of particular and not always just trade arrangements with often much poorer countries than our own. In the great debate about abortion, what is called `a woman`s right to choose` has consequences for almost 200,000 unborn children each year in this country alone. And not all choices are equally valid or good. My choice to drink or eat to excess; my lifestyle choices have consequences for the health service and for those who love me.

You see, although we talk a lot about the importance of choosing I`m not sure we`re really that good at it. And I`m not sure our culture really encourages or helps us to be discriminating. So, for example, we might choose to live together without marrying but our culture does a good job at failing to point out that we`re five times more like to split up than a married couple. The consequences for children growing up in such broken homes are all too evident. And so many in our country seem frightened of making that choice of a life partner, largely, I suspect because they have been brought up on the illusion of `continuing choice`. That is, they think they might get a better offer so they prefer to keep their options open.

And then, of course, it`s sometimes implied that we don`t have to choose. We can have it all. We can do it all. Consequently, many people, especially our children lead lives crammed with activities; exhausted and without time to reflect. The problem is, we can`t opt out. Every day we face choices and those choices tell a story about who we think we are, the values we hold and what we believe life is about. I wonder what story your choices tell?

Next time you see an Olympic athlete, remember to take a closer look. Behind that magnificent physique and behind their success are conscious choices based on their belief that since they are an athlete they will choose certain things and not others. A man called St. Paul used this same picture to describe the Christian; the athlete who chooses certain things in order to win the race.

Another Christian called Ignatius said: “I want and I choose what better leads to the deepening of God`s life in me”. He saw himself as made and loved and called by God. So he set his heart on living a life that would be a big `thank you` to God. This is what guided his choices. So how will you go about making your choices today? What will guide you?


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