Choice As The Scapegoat

Jeff Fox
16 min readJul 11, 2022

Others always have it, we never do.

Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash

Choice is the primary, fundamental, core component of freedom. To have choice is to have freedom. It is the single most empowering ingredient in our lives. Ironically it is also what we often use as a scapegoat to criticize and dismiss the perceived shortcomings of others, while at the same time blaming a lack of choice for our own shortcomings. Others fail because they make the wrong choices, despite having access to all the possible options. We fail because we were denied all of the good choices.

Whatever our circumstances, and regardless of whether things turn out the way we intended, we always make the choice we feel is right in the moment. We are trying to achieve something and given the options before us we choose the one which feels right. We always have a reason for the choices we make, whether or not others agree with or understand them.

To have choice is to have a degree of power, control, and agency in our lives. If we have choice we are not helpless victims at the complete mercy of the world around us. Even the smallest and seemingly least important choices we are able to make give us some sense of control. The ability to choose how we take our coffee may not impact the fate of nations but it allows us to exert some control over some aspect of our lives.

The loss of choice is the ultimate form of powerlessness. It leaves us feeling completely vulnerable and exposed to danger without any ability to protect ourselves. Loss of the ability to make choices in our lives is a visceral, existential fear which strikes at the core of our survival instincts. Even a small, seemingly unimportant, loss of choice can spark that fear and reflexive sense of panic.

It is important to note that our perception of loss or gain is always subjective, based on our perception of our current circumstances. Whether we currently feel we have plenty of choices or precious few we will still notice and instinctively react to any loss or gain. We will feel threatened by a loss and empowered by a gain. Those feeling are all the more heightened if our circumstances or the stakes of the choice in question are extreme but whether it is a spark or a roaring inferno we are still dealing with the same flame.

Jeff Fox

A professional dancer, choreographer, theatre creator, and featured TEDx speaker with an honours degree in psychology, two black belts, and a lap-top.