Honor Your Choices

637. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

On my drive home I listened to a story on the radio about several thousand former football players suing the NFL because they are now suffering the ill effects of repeated impacts to the head. This is confusing territory for me because I am certain that no one plays the game of football without knowing that there will be repeated blows to the head. So, who is culpable for the injury? Who is responsible for the choice to play? Part of the discussion was about the improvement over the past few decades in helmets and the attention to the rules of the game to minimize head-on collisions and the inevitable injuries that follow. The science now confirms what we’ve known (I hope) for millennia: repeated blows to the head are not good for you. So, if you choose to play, and you know the risks involved, who is responsible when you are injured or suffer the long-term effects of your choices?

Of course, there are other forces at play. The money in football is huge. Entire university athletic programs are floated on the revenues from their football programs. Sport is a route to a better life for many young athletes; the risks are apparent and the rewards are very high. Who doesn’t remember high school and the reverence afforded to the football players – especially during a winning season! Warriors in our culture are revered in all their forms and it is nice to be revered. To a young person, reverence is a high commodity.

My question is ultimately not about football players but about choices and responsibility. Despite our desire to believe otherwise, awareness does not equate into better choices. If awareness led to better choices there would not be a single smoker on the planet. We are not the rational creatures that we pretend to be. Feeling and emotion are the drivers.

Ownership of choices leads to better choices. Responsibility for actions leads to considered choices. This is hard to see in a country defined by ubiquitous litigation and that asks us not to claim responsibility. It is an expression of the separation mentality inherent in power-over stories (see my rants from the previous 2 days): no one is responsible when everyone is a victim. There is a vast difference between, “I didn’t know” and “I knew and decided to do it anyway.” Power is found in choice; power-with is available in a community that values and supports the choices that its members make.

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