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Susan Smalley, Ph.D. Headshot

Eggs And Abortion: Freedom Of Choice

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One of the privileges of living in America is the fundamental nature of our freedom of choice. Founded on the principle of liberty, we are a young nation built upon this belief and over our short period of history we have see a variety of selection of choices rising above others. At one time in our history, we had chosen slavery as an acceptable form of behavior, another time segregation, another time discrimination of women and children, and still today, the use of the death penalty.

As we venture through an election year, we are activating our system of choice - one person, one vote - to elect the next President, an individual to represent us at home and around the world. The President is just that, an individual bound to us, an individual to reflect our choices - not to make them for us but to listen to the majority of us and to act accordingly. We each must make our choices known. We each must take note of our beliefs, our thoughts on the issues of the day, and decide how we would like our country to act, and vote accordingly.

This is why, in this election, we must choose a candidate who listens, who reflects and then acts, not one who thinks they know better than the American people. We constantly evoke our freedom of choice. For example, about six years ago, I chose to become vegetarian. This chose arose for me because I sense the great interconnectedness of all life, past, present, and future, and decided to act in ways that minimize pain and suffering of all life. My son asked me the other day if I eat eggs and I said no because an egg has the potential to become an embryo. He then asked me if I believe in abortion rights and I said yes, an apparent hypocrisy to him. That made me pause to think further about the issues and how to address this apparent inconsistency.

It comes down to the belief in freedom of choice, that we each have the capacity to make decisions to enhance wellbeing and reduce suffering of ourselves, others and the planet, and that we each must be given that right to choose. A country with fewer rules and regulations is one that places a greater emphasis on the individual's right to choose. I choose to be a vegetarian but I would never want rules or regulations enforcing my choice on others. While I choose not to eat meat, I still choose to wear leather (shoes, handbag, etc.), again, an inconsistency to many but in my view a middle ground in the current circumstances in which we live.

Much of my life I spent unaware of my freedom of choice, fairly convinced that I was more a pawn in the game of life and less of a player selecting the moves of the game. I now realize that I am both pawn and player, making moves that arise from the circumstances around me, the moves of others as well as the choices I make given those circumstances. Each player has the goal of protecting the King in the game of chess. By analogy to life, each of us has the goal of protecting our humanity.

We can each act in ways that enhance our humanity by increasing our own awareness of our choices and their impact on ourselves, others, and the planet. As we evoke our individual choices on a day-to-day basis or in our election process, we act accordingly and as a nation reflect these individual actions. Notice your actions today, from what you eat to how you treat others and the planet. Become aware of your thoughts and feelings and how these drive your actions, and how you can make choices that override individual thoughts and feelings to promote our humanity.

I want a President in office who will reflect my belief that humanity is basically 'good', and given the choice, the majority of us will choose to act in ways that help not harm one another and the planet. Let us vote for a leader who will listen and reflect before acting on our behalf.

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