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Principle Two: Choice
The second of our Twelve Master Principles is about active choice, the foundation of all true freedom. It is counterbalanced by the principle of reciprocity (the subject of next month’s discussion) which measures choice by its effect on others. Together, choice and reciprocity give us appropriate freedom within the context of “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Both love and community are intertwined in this coupling of principles.
On a personal level, choice functions as the “main engine” of our lives. Virtually all our activities are a constant series of choices about what we allow ourselves to think, speak, or do with our bodies—a perfect reflection of our internal values and levels of consciousness. Likewise, choice is the doorway through which we accrue accountability. One cannot be ultimately free from accountability as long as choice exists. As we choose, we create consequences. The truth of this reality is logically undeniable. Even love is ultimately a choice. Attraction to a thing, activity, or person is either cultivated or resisted by the power of choosing to either give ourselves to it or resist the attraction. Indeed, attraction is not love but rather a marshaling of our time, energy, and emotions toward the object in question. That marshaling is a choice and a fire to be fed or denied fuel. When focused and sustainable attraction leads to love, that too is the result of choice.
Like all major or comprehensive principles, the application of the power of choice covers many dynamic realities. Regarding economic issues and policy, choice is at the absolute center of the discussion. On the macro level, there are only two basic applications: choice-based economic systems where policy and market activity are driven by the choices of the participants, or command-based systems where third parties, usually civil government, mediate and define production, exchange, and availability of goods and services. So-called “capitalism” is a misnomer for current global system analysis. At its core, economic policy is driven by either an ethic of commands or an ethic of choice. Capital is a fruit of choice and not its origin.
Let us look to the issues of productivity and creativity as they relate to active choices in the workplace and their contributions to the larger economy. A command-based environment is a highly unlikely place to expect genuine initiative to flourish. Anyone who has ever run their own business or overseen work for someone else that was truly meaningful to them, knows that creativity, marshaled energy, and the willingness to sacrifice in sustained ways is only available to those working towards their own goals. Ultimately, creativity and impassioned energy are released by the freedom of our will, even if directed to serve someone else deemed worthy of it. Once again, choice is the doorway to love, relational commitment, embraced duty, and applied value that exceeds the input costs, thus creating profit available to become capital investments.
As we should expect, choice being the underlying essence of human freedom makes itself the measuring line of understanding the nature of civil governments. The concept of freely elected governors of the people, by the people, and for the people is the mantra of Western democracy, once again resting on freedom of choice. All other systems based on leadership that overpowers others by sheer force are deemed sinful by many other names and explanations. There is high risk of corruption within republics (governments where the people elect others more skilled and available than themselves to rule on their behalf) through the mishandling of the legislative process and integrity of elections. That said, anything in any relationship which lessens freedom of choice weakens the bonds of those relationships and their productivity.
Lastly, but of important note, the Scripture says in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Paul is telling us that all humankind has been graced by God with certain skill sets and motivations which qualify and align us with specific assignments and callings, both for our good and for that of humanity. Both sinful man, corrupt society, and the ignorance of this wonderful reality are our common energy. It is our Christian assignment to live out this reality personally and spread this truth to all we know and influence. Human freedom, the essence of which is the principle of choice, is designed by God Himself to guide us to do those “good works” and help secure them for others.
In this regard, command-based societies and governments are hindering to God and imprisoning to people. Indeed, choice is the love of freedom, the passion of adventure, and the ultimate spiritual energy of creating and releasing wisdom and riches. The removal of choice is the crime of stealing on virtually every level. No social, spiritual, or economic revival is possible without choice. No one has stated this more clearly than a weary statesman named Moses: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19). And that is…
THE BOTTOM LINE.
Questions for Reflection & Discussion:
- What does choice have to do with productivity?
- How do love and choice relate to each other?
- How does freedom of speech relate to wise choices in democracy?
NOTE FROM DENNIS: Over the years, I have vigorously sought to identify definitive principles pertaining to a wide host of social, economic, and relational issues. To qualify, they had to be applicably true in every generation, ethnic group, and jurisdiction of governing and structuring. I have settled on a list of TWELVE MASTER PRINCIPLES. I plan to topically focus on one each month of the coming year, as I believe they are relevant in our current chaos and uncertainty. To view other months, please visit THE BOTTOM LINE ARCHIVES.