When Queen Boudicca prepared for her final battle with the Roman army, fear began to spring up among her fellow warriors. She decided not to feed the fears but to acknowledge them, and then did the unthinkable she lit a bonfire below it. She was using it as fuel for the celts' glory, for women, her daughters, and herself. Her victory came from the choice she made. In one of her war speeches, she stated, "We British are used to women commanders in war… But I am not fighting for my kingdom and wealth now. I am fighting as an ordinary person for my lost freedom, my bruised body, and my outraged daughters… You will win this battle or perish. That is what I, a woman, plan to do! Let the men live in slavery if they will." Fear is one of the greatest enemies of humanity. Fear of the unknown, fear of fear itself, fear about tomorrow, fearing the relevance of our presence and growth, and fearing the enemy who also at times fears us. In the face of national and global uncertainty, especially during the COVID19 pandemic, a different fear emerged, which felt numbing, crippling, and disorienting. Like Queen Boudicca, many women worldwide made a conscious choice to lite a bonfire below their fears, using their fears as a stepping stone to rise to the occasion to serve humanity and to become better. To launch out into the unknown with new ventures, to invest in others so they can advance, to establish new personal and professional paths, to hold space for each other, and to utter, "I need your help." Every woman who showed up during this time for themselves and others did something. They made a choice.
They made a conscious choice to rise above the fears even in the face of uncertainty as the latter provides an unimaginable reckless faith and fuel to persevere, love, and be present. As I watched Queen Boudicca, I contemplated this notion of choice. I was socialized to have a skewed worldview about choice. And saw it as either "black or white," "right or wrong," "moral or immoral." My Amazon sisters, was I wrong? I began a journey of unpacking choice and encountered a few AH-HA moments. My process of redefining "CHOICE" and what it looks like and feels like to me will be different from your journey. Every day we make choices; this is a natural part of our existence. Choice intersects with love, giving, empathy, and many other areas in our lives. Choice in and of itself is not "bad or good," "healthy or unhealthy," "moral or immoral." It's about being present, conscious, and informed at the moment of choice. It's a process that is intangible as it occurs internally. However, it produces tangible products. Each day we lose choice, and we also have the incredible opportunity to regain choice. We work to maintain our choices, revisit them, evaluate them, or learn from them. Most people do not condemn or praise the choices. They praise the manifestation of the action that follows the choice. Without the manifestation of choice through action, the choice would remain unknown. These actions can be healthy or unhealthy, enhance one's life and others' lives, enable oppression, dehumanization, direct and indirect abuse, and violence. The process of choice is the basis for human action. While the process of choice is neither "good nor bad," "right or wrong," "moral or immoral," "healthy or unhealthy." The action that follows the choice may receive a response based on the receiver's and onlooker's worldviews and moral compass. Every day we make a choice to give of ourselves, our resources (not just monetary), to eat, to worship the God one serves, to show up at work, to build or exit relationships, to love, to forgive, to hold onto pain or to let go. We make a choice to invest in ourselves and others to realize dreams and to support social change. The choice is demonstrated through the "act." If we make a choice not to move, grow, ask for support, say something, or give a lot of things will cease to exist. Choice precedes action, and action is dependent on choice. It is about an internal conversation you have with yourself that leads to an action that can make you experience a sense of purpose and accomplishment or sink beneath fear and regret. And your choice can create space for yourself and others to advance and realize the fullness of living an abundant life. Choices make up our lived experiences. As we end 2020 and enter 2021, I would not encourage you to make a resolution list for the coming year, nor would I encourage you to commit to some great notable work. I encourage you to take time to pause, reflect, and make your choices count. In so doing, great works will follow, internal changes will occur, showing up and holding space for yourself and others will override self-preservation and toxic relevance, and the world will be a better place as we become better.
While many the world over may be fearful of what 2021 may bring, afraid of the wrath of the pandemic. Afraid to give of themselves because self-preservation has kicked in, internal and external chaos about the uncertainties and fragility of life, economies, businesses, organizations, and the planet is overriding the ability to pause and make a choice that would not feed the present fears. Many choose instead to lose the battle without stepping into the ring due to anxiety, and in so doing, they lose opportunities to create and bring things to life. Remember, the choice you make right now can create a tremendous blaze to clear the path for victory and pay it forward or enable passivity and regression to be covered by the weeds of fear and indecision. Know that you were born to develop blazes base on your choices. As Joan of Arc said, "I was born for this."
What choice would you make today to become a better you and invest in those around you?
Sherna Alexander Benjamin