From the moment we are conceived the “choices” others make (e.g. our Mother’s abuse of drugs while we’re in her womb) affects who we become, modifies our potentials for making harmful or helpful choices when future opportunities to “choose” present themselves. Other people “choices” can literally blind us to the fact that “choices” even exist e.g.
• A mother’s alcohol abuse can blind her fetus.
• A parent’s repeated shouts of “You’re worthless!” can make that curse come true.
• Other’s sexism, racism can shut some doors for you and hold open prison doors.
Thus our “pursuit of happiness” may be blocked by others.
Anyone whose done time can’t help but notice that most prisoners came from choices was a meager at best. Prisoners also know well that only rare staff seeks to aid us in our guest to be more humane to be “rehabilitated”. Thus it is only abnormally resilient personalities who like a rebellious horse, buck the circumstances riders who willingly or unwillingly sought to break us and survive the gauntlets we’ve been thrust into.
As we grow, however the “choice” we make become more the “choice” of the being we’ve become, albeit a being we had little say in becoming. (Do you recall, while a fetus anyone asking you what personality you’d like to have? Neither do I) however there’s no clear border distinguishing when/where others on ourselves are more to blame for “choice” we’ve made and by the time we attain adulthood, so many influences/experiences have shaped our minds/souls- at least billion of factors that
F.N 1 The term “choice” is reification a word used to make its concept true. In truth as explained in the PBS Series, The Brain hosted by David Eagleman and in Eagleman’s book, Incognito: the Secret Lives of the Brain, Its demonstrated that subconscious processes make the choices we then consciously assume we made.
F.N.2 the book Parental Incarceration, routledge 2016 does a fine job demonstrating how adverse childhood experiences (A.C.E’s) lead to such things as criminal behavior and imprisonment.
It’s impossible for all but a quantum supercomputer to determine for sure who or what is to blame for a particular “choice” we made.
Forgiveness thus makes sense, forgiveness of yourself and of those who’ve wronged you and of those who still wrong you. (Forgiveness is not forgetfulness…)
This truth is hard for most to digest because we’ve been raised to believe that our souls are not minds produced by our wills are free and not influenced by factors beyond our control or awareness. More so the influenced by factors beyond our control or awareness. More so, the criminal justice system relies on this myth to justify throwing away mostly unfortunate people-were systemcrats to suddenly become aware of their devilry in this regard, they might take the route of Javert in Les Miserables, recently and excellently reproduced by masterpiece theatre.
Most will continue to cling to the harmful myth that wills are free and thus all prisoners “choice” to be criminals, chose to be addicts, chose to be …miserable.
Those of us however, who choose to know better can gain some control over our own fates and even the fate of those around us the world. We can be more mindful of our impact on others( e.g. help those in need within reason… or beyond reason) and we can be more mindful of our impact on ourselves (e.g. ourself-talk-rather than taking ourselves into trouble talk ourselves out, talk ourselves into…success).
You can see how a village of like-minded individuals would definitely help those of us who choose to know better. So, why don’t we construct such a village?
F.N 3 for more on Free Will vs. Determinism ( lack of Free Will) see my essay “ Do we really have a Choice?”
By Nate A. Lindell