No Right to Choose Wrongly

By Chris Pelicano (bio - articles - email) | Aug 24, 2012

The "freedom to choose" has grown out of all proportion in American culture over the last several decades. "I have a right to choose for myself," seems to have become the definitive (and way-overused) response to any issue at hand. And even though free will is a defining human attribute, it is not an absolute. Freedom is always for something. Freedom is only a right when it is conditioned by its corresponding obligations.

"With great power comes great responsibility." With these words, Uncle Ben tried to tell Peter Parker that though he was free to choose how to use his great powers, he was under an even greater obligation to choose to use them properly. He only had a right to choose what was right. He had no right to choose wrongly. Freedom divorced from responsibility is mere license. You see, Uncle Ben knew, as all parents or guardians of teenagers know, that young people are easily enamored of and blinded by their new-found "freedoms" and powers, and therefore, prone to leap before they look.

Is it not high time for our society and culture equally enamored by the "freedom to choose" to look again before leaping again—to realize that all choices are not created equal? There is right and there is wrong. They can be known with sufficient certainty. In fact, deep down, we cannot not know the difference. We simply need to use our "Spidey-sense," called deep conscience, to guide our amazing power to choose—bringing those powers in line with our even greater obligation to choose rightly.

We have the ability but not the right to choose wrongly.

Christopher Pelicano is a graphics artist who has both designed and written for Chris has more than 30 years of experience in graphic design, illustration, and creative problem solving, including many Catholic projects. Among other things, he created the author bio sketches on this website.
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  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Aug. 27, 2012 2:13 PM ET USA

    Pope Leo XIII's encyclical "Libertas" would be a good read after reading this fine article.

  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Aug. 27, 2012 6:49 AM ET USA

    When you follow the path of "no right to choose wrongly" then you come to the idea that "error has no rights." And the problem with that is that, while error may have no rights, persons who err have the same fundamental rights as those who do not err. Obviously there needs to be balance on this. The state cannot simply allow all to choose wrongly without consequence. But when you start talking about rights, that's where one can run into trouble since God give us all the right to choose wrongly.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Aug. 25, 2012 3:17 PM ET USA

    Orientation. Direction. Intellect. Will. Grace. The problem is vexing and it is deep-rooted. High-ranking prelates are disoriented. The indiscriminate exercise of choosing is celebrated as the highest good in that it is the unencumbered use of the intellect and will to choose what one feels is best for him or her. Nothing can be considered a higher good than this unrestricted exercise of freedom, directionless and disordered as it might be. But there is so much more for us to consider.