The Choices We Make

Nearly 10 years ago, on May 17, 2004, Bill Cosby gave a speech that stirred up a lot of controversy about how Black people, particularly those in the lower economic community, need to take responsibility for themselves. You can read the speech, and additional commentary, here.

black and white photo, single man in wet suit, shoreline and hillside town in distance

We choose how we navigate through life, catching fair winds and keeping our balance when the going gets rough.

He called people out for their behavior and their choices by saying, if they didn’t apply themselves in school, or dropped out, they can’t blame others because they’re working a minimum wage job. While he was speaking to one portion of the Black community, his words ought to resonate with all of us.

Each of us is personally and unilaterally responsible for every choice we make.

We all know this, but we rarely talk about it ourselves or hear others talk about.

Do we show others we value ourselves by purchasing modest yet stylish clothes, or clothes that leave nothing to the imagination? Do we show our children we value them by having meals together, or do we leave five bucks on the table for McDonalds? Do we talk about things that are important to us or do we keep our mouths shut out of fear of rocking the boat?

For instance, when someone complains about the impossibility of raising a family on the minimum wage, do we suggest that person could have obtained more education or vocational training in order to earn a higher wage, before starting a family? Or alternately, decided against having a family and taken steps to prevent pregnancy?  Or do we vote to raise the minimum wage so people do not have to face the consequences of their own decisions?

Do we blame others for our own choices? For instance, we choose to cheat on our spouse but claim it is because our spouse wasn’t giving us enough attention. We leave the house late and blame the traffic volume for our failure to arrive on time.

When we accept responsibly for our choices, we bring deeper meaning to our own lives, we build our character, and we earn the respect of others. When we put responsibility for our choices on others, we become vindictive and feel powerless to change our lives.

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves.

The process never ends until we die.

And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”

 ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Your Personal Appraisal

  • Do you find yourself making excuses for not getting things done?
  • Do you accept responsibility by confessing to your own mistakes and learning from them?
  • Do you blow off work responsibilities in favor of having fun?
  • Do you make manageable to-do lists and reward yourself when they are completed?
  • Do you commit to longer-term things like an educational course or sport and see them through?

Life Is Honest, Open and True: This holiday season, make a point to wish others a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or share any greeting that is an honest representation of your faith. In conversation with a spouse, close friend or trusted advisor, openly acknowledge personal responsibility for choices you have made. Most of all, make a vow to be true to yourself not only today, but every day, by remembering every action you take is a result of a choice you make.

Tell me about a time when you fell into the trap of avoiding responsibility for a choice you made. How did you recognize what happened and what did you do about it? Tell me about it in the comments or tweet to @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

Related Posts: Choices

The Truth Is, I Made a Mistake

Why is Failure Not an Option?

Do you Dwell on It or Do You Move On?


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