Becoming What We Choose
(C) Third Millennium, LLC
By Deacon Keith Fournier Founder/President, "Common Good"
The "right to choose" has been subverted causing a new bondage in the lives of countless millions.
"Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself"
Catholic Catechism, Paragraph 1861
"Now, human life is always subject to change: it needs to be born ever anew…but here birth does not come about by a foreign intervention, as is the case with bodily beings, it is the result of a free choice. Thus we are in a certain way our own parents, creating ourselves as we will, by our decisions."
St. Gregory of Nyssa
It seems no matter where you turn these days someone is demanding a "right to choose."
There are the new libertines who mistake "freedom" with the right to do anything that "feels good." Then, there are the self-deluded champions of new "rights"-which are not rights at all-such as requiring that consensual prolonged sexual acts between practicing homosexuals (or unmarried heterosexuals) be afforded the same treatment as a marriage by the State.
The clamor for these mistaken notions of "choice", and others, grows louder every day.
What does all of this tell us about ourselves? What are we choosing, and who are we becoming in the process?
Tragically, we are all too often making the wrong choices and becoming corrupted, individually and collectively, in the process. Why? Because we have lost the foundational philosophical and moral understanding of the true obligations which authentic freedom entails and the effect of the "reflexive" nature of our choices on who we become, both as individuals and as a nation.
Like the Biblical son of Isaac, Esau, we have sold our birthright for a bowl of stew.
This story is told in the first book of the Bible, Genesis (see Genesis 25:29-34). Esau came in from hunting one day famished. Unable to control his own appetites, he, the firstborn who stood to inherit his fathers' estate, sold that birthright for a bowl of red stew made from wild game.
He made a wrong choice.
That was why he would later be called Edom, which means "red". That choice defined him and literally changed his "name", which in biblical terms entails character and identity. His wrong choice not only lost him a future but also changed his very identity.
As a nation, America was birthed in an understanding of freedom that implied both a "freedom from" intrusive government but also a "freedom for" responsible and virtuous living. Our founders understood the obligations of social solidarity.
Birthed from the Western tradition, the American idea of "ordered liberty" contained within it the deeper understanding of the person as a responsible agent whose choices defined his or her character. Additionally, the framework our founders structured for national self-government was dependent upon- and subordinated to- the existence of self-government on a personal, family and local level.
Though not explicitly uttered by the American founders, the following insight is implied in many of the enabling documents of the experiment in "ordered liberty" which they authored:
"we may be 'free to choose' but we are not free to make the objects of our choice good or evil, right or wrong."
That is God's prerogative.
In a real sense our choices make us--- we actually become what we choose! In other words our choices not only affect the "outside" world but the "inside" world as well. In the very act of choosing we change ourselves-we become what we choose!
That's right- we become what we choose! Think about it. There is a self- determining character to our exercise of free choice.
The ancient Christian Father, Gregory of Nyssa expressed this so well in reminding us "… we are in a certain way our own parents, creating ourselves as we will, by our own decisions."
Our own American literature is laced with the truth concerning the reflexive nature of human choice. Most children, at some point in their formal education, read the "Portrait of Dorian Gray." The story revolves around a young artist who is painting a self-portrait. He keeps it hidden away and works on it throughout his life.
As his life proceeds he "pays his money and he makes his choices"-- most of which proceed from his narcissistic worldview. To the onlooker, he is living the life of sensual and professional "success"-but he knows what the portrait reveals when he is home alone.
When the artist is eventually found dead, his self-portrait is also found. It revealed the interior ...
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