Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nature, Nurture and Choice - Heavy Thoughts at a Wild Party

It was one of the coolest weddings I've ever attended, the reception turned into a lively celebration, I was doing the kind of dancing I do only after I've had way too many drinks, and my friend and I were catching our breath. We were talking about his kids and out of the blue he asked me: "So, where do you land on the question of nature or nurture?"

Well, now. I was flattered he would ask me a question like this at a wedding party, but my brain had to shift gears to consider it. I knew where I stood on the issue, so it didn't take me long to reply.

"Neither nature nor nurture. Choice. Yes, our genetic inheritance gives us our start-point hardware, our potential and limitations. But after that it's about learning. Like a computer, we upload the software and the data."

"Choice? I never heard that answer before."

"We're different from animals because we can think, ponder and reflect before we act. It's not just instinct, habit and stimulus-response. We make conscious choices. We decide what we want to do. You take Person A and Person B and you put both people in exactly the same situation, and they may not make the same choices. And their actions will have consequences."

"Choice," he repeated. He looked a little dazed. I'm pretty sure he had dispatched as many drinks as I had.

"We're responsible for our actions. For what we learn. For what we do. For what we become. For our lives. You can't account for a person's actions by saying it's something he's born with, and you can't say the world programmed him to do it. We choose to do what we do."

I don't remember all the details of that night, but I think my friend changed the subject.

The question he asked is an important one, and it's worth discussing; but you don't have to take my answer as the final word. Check out this brief video from the man, author Stephen Covey.

Food for thought...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

C.Moore said...

I still need to look at the video and ponder this question a little more but I believe that where a person's nurturing experience has stripped him or her of so much of the basics one needs to be able to make an intelligent choice it's difficult to definitely answer this question.

Careshia Moore