OpEdI believe strongly in the idea of nature and nurture that we are products of both but that we also ultimately choose how we will interact with the people we meet throughout our lives. We choose whom we will love and how we will love them. We choose what we will give of ourselves, of our time, of our resources, our heart and yes even our secrets in each relationship we engage, whether friendship or love.

At the end of the day, no matter what happens we choose how we will react and thus, how we will act. Each of us makes a conscious choice how we will face adversity and whether we will live our lives with joy or something else, something less, whether less is apathy, guilt or true regret. What I know, deep in my soul is we do have choices, no matter what, we have choices.

What else I know is human beings are taught to be evil through nurture and despite our nurture, we can overcome our training and choose to be better human beings. Parents have enormous influence on their children; they bring blank slates into the world and write evil onto their hearts turning them into horrifying, selfish, racist, misogynist shits. Children are sponges; they walk through their young lives watching their parents, their neighbors and other influential people, sucking it all up into their hearts and spirits.

If you are a racist shit, it is nearly a guarantee your child will carry on your terrible legacy of race-based hate. Beat your wife, some lucky girl will likely be the recipient of your son’s future fury or your daughter will lay down and accept some man’s fist as her due. These are some examples of the horror stories of what happens; the legacy children are gifted by ignorant parents. There are more, abused children are likely to abuse, children of alcoholics are likely to become alcoholics. Children are blank canvases; we paint upon them what we want the world to know about us.

Despite history, despite learning at the hard knee of a parent we still have a choice not to carry forward a legacy of hate, racism, of violence. We are all gifted with free choice, whether you are Christian or otherwise, all of us share one core value: Free Choice.

I do not believe in angels and devils as a birth ‘defect’. I believe we choose how we will interact with the world and those within it. I believe we choose how we will interact with communities or individuals, it is true whether we are talking about friends, family, lovers or a broader community. I choose how I love, where I love and whom I love, without asking for or excepting the judgment of others, I choose.

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My nature is not formed by my history, or perhaps it is but not in the way planned or expected by those who tried hard to warp it. My nurture did not corrupt me, those who would have twisted my heart into unrecognizable forms failed to change my core. Yes, there are days, even weeks when I question, when I pull into myself and build walls; those times do not last. Yes, I know my nature opens me up to the potential of being hurt more easily, even of being taken advantage of at times. I also know there are those who think I am blind to their faults, that I live in a world where there is only sunshine and rainbows without a darkside. I do not live in that world, I have seen the worst in people, I have lived on the darkest side of the world and within the shadows. I made a conscious decision not to be corrupted, not to be bent, not to be twisted, not to hate others or myself by the hurt others did to me or I did to myself. I made a conscious choice to choose joy, to choose hope.

Choosing joy doesn’t mean I don’t grow despondent at times. Choosing hope doesn’t mean I don’t feel hopeless at times. Truthfully, there are days I feel despondent and hopeless, unloved and unworthy of love. Choosing joy, choosing hope LindaHead_2doesn’t mean I don’t see the possibility others are not kind, it simply means I don’t base my willingness to love on reciprocity. My giving doesn’t require an even return, love is not an investment rather it is simply a choice we make. For me, it is a choice I make every single day.


  1. excellent post and I totally agree with your conclusion, expressed throughout your last paragraph… my very best and respectful regards, Mélanie

  2. I’m a late catcher-upper. Too many emails. However, your post is quite thought-provoking, indeed. I grew up in a family where my father was a bigot. Plain and simple. Even though outwardly, he was usually jovial, his private thoughts were not always happy ones. Can’t blame him completely – he was raised in a very dysfunctional family. So, he raised his 2 daughters as best he could, but we grew up with lower self image than we should have had. Years have taught us to be more who we were meant to be, but the journey hasn’t been as easy as I would have hoped. Thanks for your post. 🙂

    • So many of us though have been able to use our own minds and our own free will to leave behind what we were brought up to be. The power of free will is amazing.

  3. Val, you always craft such thoughtful posts! I think joy absolutely is a choice. I actually wake up in the morning and think this WILL be a good day and set my mind in that way… I know not every moment is a good one but it helps make for more of the happy emotions. HUGS!

  4. ***At the end of the day, no matter what happens we choose how we will react and thus, how we will act.**
    YESSSSSSSSSS. When will we realized that we need to take responsibility for our own actions NO MATTER what our nurture/nature is?


  5. You make some powerful points here, Val. So true – we cannot choose all that happens to us. We are totally powerless about so much of life, especially how we were raised. All we get to choose is how we react to life. Good for you for choosing joy, and thanks for the reminder!

  6. Lovely, lovely, lovely, Val, as usual! So many, even myself at times, forget the role choice plays in who we become. Sorry to be late getting here. Trying to catch up. YIKES!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • Kathy, I am simply glad you are returned. I don’t care if it takes you days or even weeks to get here.

      You are right, we forget how much of a role choice makes in who we are, who we become.

      Hugs right back.

  7. At what point do we say a child has to make that choice? Sometimes, because of environment, they make similar choices of what they’ve known. Positive or negative. It’s so difficult to re-direct some folk thinking, even in a child ’cause they are helpless in changing their environment. So, it goes back to the question I asked. The Bible says even as a child, they aren’t blameless but the church and the Bible has so little influence in our culture now. Though, that’s another topic you may wanna explore ’cause the church has an agenda and it’s not always a God-centered motive.

    Anyway, I recently saw a presentation on major influences in children, from the 50s to now. It used to be in the 50s, family, church, school, peers. Now, it’s media, peers, internet. There’s been a shift in thinking and priorities. While we know more globally and able to make connection all over the world, North America is going in reverse in so many ways.

    How does a child accept joy when they don’t see where they live and at what point do you believe they are they accountable for their choices?

    • Certainly influences come from many directions, but it starts in the home. Imprints start there. Church, if a child is raised in one, that imprints as well. Apples don’t fall far from the tree, as they say.

      We do not though have to follow the path laid for us. Especially today, especially with so much information available to us through social media. Personal choice, our ability to define who we will be in our life, it is possible for us to choose despite our upbringing. It is possible for us to walk away from bad influences.

      I don’t know what the age of majority is. I know for me it was very young, for me I was only 9 or 10 when I begin challenging my upbringing. I don’t know if I was an anomaly.

  8. singleworkingmomswm says:

    Oh, Val, I really love this post! It is poignantly written, and I am the same way. I choose to be the way I am and feel the way I feel on a daily basis. Certainly the feelings wax and wane depending on what is happening in the moment, but in general, my way of living life is to be positive, to not give up, to not lose hope or let my happiness be dependent on another-to not let my actions and choices be the result of what I may have been taught or known as a younger me. Love you! XOXO-Kasey

    • Kasey, I know there are more of us out there. I know we exist. I wish there were more of us, we could change the world, dammit.


      • singleworkingmomswm says:

        You are so right! With those who are like-minded (obviously friends in good company, like you) we discuss this a lot and how it seems as though we are so few and far between. XO 🙂 Have a good weekend!!

  9. Beautiful Val. (And I came here just after reading about the law suit of the gay couple who got African-American sperm from a sperm bank, so the timing is just right. What is wrong with some people???)

  10. Although each of us come into the world with given behaviors and dispositions, yes … life is about choices … thus a reason why I believe the most important decision one makes in life is who they choice to be around. Great post, Val!

  11. Values and empathy need to be repeatedly role modeled and discussed with children as they grow up. It seems empathy takes a backseat nowadays. Parents not teaching it, the media not emphasizing it. We all have different personalities, and some children are more difficult to nurture than others, but we have to make it a 24/7 kind of thing.

    • Indeed, the problem I think is empathy and compassion seem t be in short supply. The world seems to be going to hell and we don’t seem to be putting the brakes on it.

  12. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on MrMilitantNegro™.

  13. Joy and hope are the best choices in an imperfect world.

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