If there is one word that I'm most tired of hearing, it's "choices." I hear far too much rhetoric about "having choices" and "making choices" and living with the consequences of "misguided choices" that sometimes I feel like yelling "Stop!" Not everything that happens to unfortunate people has to do with choices, poor or otherwise. This word is often used like a bludgeon directed against individuals who have fallen on hard times.

None of the people whom I've met on the streets "chose" to be disabled, assaulted, unemployed, raped or homeless. Many sustained disabling injuries in childhood or during young adulthood that initiated a downward spiral and compromised them for the rest of their lives. Some were the unwilling victims of wars, crimes, child abuse, birth defects, domestic violence, accidents and other tragedies.

If you can't help, that's ok. Just say so directly. Be honest with yourself and others about your personal limitations but do this without maligning the person who needs help. Please avoid self-righteous finger-pointing. Please avoid blaming the victim for making "poor choices." And please also resist the temptation to tell people in need to make "better choices." #emoed#drmary#


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