4. Choice – February 2015/Shavt 5775

You May Always Choose None Of The Above.

There are 75 different types of fruit jams in the supermarket across the street from my house. That’s good, right? Who doesn’t love choices? Or is it?

Ever since that first moment of choosing to eat the fruit in the Garden of Eden, we humans have been blessed and cursed with the power of choice.

Abundance and free markets offer us the world on a dazzling platter; The humanist pursuit of free will governs our systems and offer us the freedom to be who we really want to be. The the digital age makes options even easier and even more diverse. Choose your own playlist.

I’m 100% Pro Choice – but aren’t we getting lost in too many choices?? Is there a price tag our souls and society pay for always choosing more, other, and not being satisfied with what there is? What can we each do to improve our art of choosing?

Shmita – the sabbatical year of release and reset may be helpful here. In a mythic sense, Shmitai is a return to the notion of Eden – just before the drama of desire started. In an imagined world of ‘enough’ we can maybe learn to make better choices and when not to choose at all.

Join me for the fourth FallowLab Conversation, with surprising teachings from Jewish, Mormon, psychological, mystical and techno-geek sources: the choice to choose is yours.

Amichai Lau-Lavie

“When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable … But as the number of choices keeps growing, negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to appear … the negatives escalate until we become overloaded. At this point, choice no longer liberates, but debilitates. It might even be said to tyrannize.”

Barry Schwartz “The Paradox of Choice”

The whole purpose of the covenant at Sinai is to create a society that observed Shmita…The Sabbatical year was the guarantor and the ultimate fulfillment of the justice that Torah teaches us to practice in everyday life, and it was a justice that embraced not just fellow human beings, but the land and all life… This is what it means to “choose life so you may live, you and your seed after you.” (Deut. 30:19) This is what it means to “increase your days and your children’s days on the ground for as long as the skies are over the land.” (Deut. 11:21)

– Rabbi David Seidenberg, Shmita: The Purpose of Sinai

“Eve is everywhere. She has taken the first bite from the rainbow-colored apple which, standing alone with no other message at all on a billboard, conveys all the following messages: Knowledge-power-seduction-temptation-enticement. Lose your innocence with an Apple computer – Eve’s apple, only one bite missing. Come on, Adam…

Nancy Datan “Forbidden Fruits and Sorrow”

“We all want the freedom to choose, and the history of technology can easily be told as the story of how human beings gave themselves more choices: the choice to live in different climates, to spend our time doing things other than hunting for food, to read at night, and so on.

The one choice we’re not getting to make is whether or not to deal with all this choice.”

Douglas Rushkoff, “Program or be Programmed”

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