Why bad choices are made

The choices we make have many consequences. But the choices we can make depend upon factors which are largely beyond our control. Entering a game of skill, like chess, that was in progress, you would be limited to the choices permitted by the board; entering into a game of chance, like roulette, that was in progress, you'd be limited to the resources left by the luck of the previous player. Every child enters this world like a player to a game in progress: they are limited by the choices of their parents, and those of their ancestors; they are limited by the choices of their community, and the choices of their nation. There is not one person born free.

When a child is born into a family, a community, or a nation which has gambled its resources, or which failed to defend them, it is to be expected that this will handicap their performance in life. A child whose great-grandparents rightly earned tremendous wealth, and whose family has rightly expanded that wealth, will have advantage. A child whose parents are wise, and can impart upon them the skills of life, or a trade, will have advantage over the child of an unskilled peasant.

Even today, the institution of slavery is practiced. People are understood as possessions, and inferior beings by those who are more advantaged. In ancient Europe, a man was understood as superior to a woman because he owned property, and had greater freedom of choice, greater potential. A man who was a Lord was understood as "noble," more noble than the merchants who were their slaves. And these slaves were understood to be superior beings to the surfs and peasants who, besides bearing the burden of enslavement to a Lord, bore the enslavement to their Lord's land. Yet even these merchants bore multiple-slavery: for they were enslaved to their Masters, their Guilds, and their elders. It has taken more than 500 years since the first liberations of these people for the advantages of the nobles and disadvantages of the peasants to erode and nearly equalize. And yet, even today, the societal beliefs in superiority and inferiority remain.

In America, slavery persists. The felon bears the ignobility of the State's yoke: deprived of basic rights, deprived of their choice of occupation, deprived of their right of travel like some peasant, and by numerous disadvantages, the felon has no other inheritance to give to their children but this disadvantage. There is a reason that such peasants are ignorant, poor and criminal: and it is not because of an inferiority or defect in their humanity.

And yes, there was racial enslavement in America. Though it was ended almost 150 years ago, what other inheritance did these slaves have for their children - but ignorance, poverty and crime? Of course, there were some former slaves who in this game, by luck or skill, developed for themselves better choices than their fellows. But these exceptions prove the rule: the cards you are dealt impact your ability to take advantage of the cards yet to be dealt; the position of the board impacts your ability to turn advantage more than your skill.

We have choices to make today. And despite our disadvantages, we must be patient enough to make the best choices available. But we must also do what can be done to alleviate the suffering of our neighbors. We are all one family, and should share the inheritance. We should share the wisdom, skill, and wealth with our unfortunate relatives.

When we give the gift of food to those who struggle to afford it, we permit them the ease required to better raise their children and impart wisdom required for better living. When we give the gift of education to those who struggle to afford it, we share the skills they require to prosper. As rotten food is sometimes worse than none at all, an inferior education is sometimes worse than none at all. As is inferior or unaffordable medical care worse than none at all - and inadequate or inferior housing sometimes worse than none at all: what child is well-advantaged having grown up in the projects? The means by which adequate education and food is given is through friendship, and love: consider these, your neighbors, your friends and family and you will give them no inferior food, nor inferior education.

No one is born noble, nor made noble by their choices: it is through the work of love and friendship, through Raja Yoga, we are ennobled.