I 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.
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 doesn’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.