The Privilege of Choice.

Today, for me, is like every other day here in Hong Kong.

After choosing to stay up late again, checking emails and doing some searching over the web, I struggled out of bed this morning, knowing that once again the making of, and drinking, a fresh, strong mug of coffee would pull me through!

During the day I will choose, again, whether to venture out into the Hong Kong heat and walk down the hill for lunch  or stay in the air conditioning and not bother about eating.

Tonight I will look in the cupboard and scan the refrigerator and decide what we will eat for dinner  or maybe we’ll choose to walk across the road and have takeaway.

Before going to bed, I will have a shower as cool or as warm as I choose and there will be plenty of clean water, available to me at the turning of a handle.

I chose this morning what I would wear, and am also wondering what gift I will choose this afternoon at the Marketplace for a friend back home.

Jim and I have been talking about all the places and friends around the world that we miss and want to be able to visit from Zimbabwe and Thailand to Malaysia and the Middle East. It may be a while before we get to these places, but we know we can – we have a passport!

I have been thinking a lot in the past several months about the freedom that choice gives me in every area of my life.

Yes, every area! Through absolutely no contrivance or deservedness of my own, I was born in Australia,  referred to as the ‘lucky country’ by many.

And I was born into a family that worked hard, saved, paid things off, sent my sister and I to a great school, and which gave us opportunities to learn, to acquire skills, to travel.

Simply because of where and to whom I was born, I have never experienced hunger, homelessness or social and cultural rejection because of caste, ethnicity or disability.

I have not been forced to run away from danger and political instability, and my nationality allows me to travel virtually anywhere without restriction.

Choices and opportunity!

If approximately only 8% of this world’s population has access to clean water, enough to eat, education and  fair employment, then I have been reflecting on the hugeness of the concept, that only 8% of the earth’s populace has the privilege of choice and opportunity.

I tend to compartmentalise the challenges and problems we are confronted by as a race. This group is exploited by unconscionable employers and loan sharks; that group is dealing with HIV and AIDS in their community; these people are refugees from Somalia; those boys are child soldiers in Burma.

But when I tear down those delineations in my mind, every horrific problem is distilled into the same two paradigms:

Little or no choice and little or no opportunity.

So, when I learn that currently about 1.2 billion people subsist on US $1 a day or less, and close to 3 billion live on $2 a day or less, I reflect on the extraordinary fact that over 4 billion people alive now, have no choice about where or how they live. These people are simply surviving from one hour, from one day to the next, subsisting on either rice, wheat or maize, with little or no access to medical care and education- for themselves or their children.

And what about me? (The West, in particular, has consecrated an entire religion around that two letter word )

Well, my day and my life are filled to overflowing with choices- from whether to cook chicken or beef tonight, to whether we stay in Hong Kong or go..anywhere else in the world! And so, freedom becomes not just not being poor, but possessing the completely undeserved privilege to make choices.

And as I am daily confronted with all these choices, large and small, I will also be making other decisions.

Ultimately I choose what comes out of my mouth and how I behave.

I choose to stop and show genuine friendliness to someone today  or I choose not to.

I choose to make a life altering difference to someone, somehow  or I choose to deify ME and make sure Me is in want or need of nothing.

Most people who will read this have the privilege of choice

what are you choosing today?

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