Every choice is an endorsement

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

Several years ago I attended a conference and that was the one statement that stuck with me – every choice is an endorsement.

I don’t know about you, but my experience is that if I come away from a class, seminar or conference with one lingering, memorable idea or principle, the time spent was well worth it.

“Every choice is an endorsement” is a reminder of the immediate, constant, and sometimes powerful influence of our everyday choices.

We might imagine that it is our “big” choices that express or manifest our values. They do, but if you think about it, we make very few “big” decisions in a typical year.

We might buy a house, move, establish or abandon a relationship, take a new job, vote for someone or something or make another major life change in one year, but we make hundreds, if not thousands of little decisions  every day that express, define and represent who we are and what we care about.

This photo sums up who we are: open water, urban landscape, working port and of course, our glorious - and volcanic mountain. Work, recreation and wilderness are literally within sight of most of us any given day. This place, and why we live here is the ultimate expression of who we are.  Photo: Morf Morford

This photo sums up who we are: open water, urban landscape, working port and of course, our glorious – and volcanic mountain. Work, recreation and wilderness are literally within sight of most of us any given day. This place, and why we live here is the ultimate expression of who we are. Photo: Morf Morford

If you have a pet, how does your cat or dog know that you care about it? It is not the big things – your pet is barely impressed by that expensive bulky toy or climbing apparatus – they want that constant flood of actions – the daily walk, the pets, the scratches behind the ears, the time curled up near you or in your lap.

The same is true of any relationship. As someone said, 90% of life is just showing up.

Our presence, at work, at home, in a relationship is the only thing that matters.

Any relationship – business, romantic or friendship wrapped around sports, hobbies or almost any activity or interest, doesn’t necessarily require skill, experience, aptitude or even, at least at first, much interest.

All any relationship really requires is sustained presence.

Historic retailers know this. To be successful they need lifetime, if not generational customers.

When you go grocery shopping, for example, don’t you go to your “favorite” stores, and buy what you always buy?

We are creatures of habit, we like to do what we’ve done before.

We might not like the idea of movie sequels and film remakes (like A Star is Born) and endless versions of Star Wars or Avengers, but the reality is that they are hugely popular and immensely profitable.

When it comes to entertainment, we like to see (or hear) something not that different from what we already know.

Most people hate “new” music, not because they have a logical, reasonable basis for not liking it – most of us don’t like “new” music purely because it is new.

That is also true of new kinds of food, or fashion or slang, or technology.

We might not think of it this way, but we have “invested” our time and energy and money in what we are accustomed to, and anything new is a challenge, if not threat, to who we are and what we hold dear.

The kind of car we drive (or even more, the bicycle or bus we use) expresses our values; as does every snack we eat, the coffee we drink and where we go on vacation.

“Knowledge of what you love somehow comes to you; you don’t have to read nor analyze nor study. If you love a thing enough, knowledge of it seeps into you, with particulars more real than any chart can furnish.”  - Jessamyn West

Did you know, for example, that conservatives are far more likely to eat standard American fast food (like burgers and pizza) than liberals? Or that liberals eat more fish than conservatives?

Or that, when cooking at home, liberals are far more likely to prepare curry while conservatives are more inclined toward hamburgers, casseroles or meatloaf.

And liberals are far more likely to drink beer or wine with meals while conservatives stick to milk or soft drinks.  (1*)

But it is not just our food choices that define us, it is every choice – from toothpaste to shoes – remember the Nike controversy earlier in 2018 where people burned their shoes in protest? And what about the controversy – and sometimes legal restrictions – on plastic bags or single use plastic drinking straws?

The point is that every choice – on any topic – from who we vote for as president or what toothpaste we use – defines us.

Most of us rarely think of such things, but it doesn’t really matter, we express ourselves continually – deliberately or not.

Even the state of how clean – or messy – our desk, bedroom or dorm room might be is revealing – again, whether we intend it or not.

Messy? Got multiple projects going in various states  of completion and disarray? You are probably liberal.

Got everything clearly labeled and organized? You are probably conservative.  (2*)

For better or worse, everything we do, eat and wear – and where we live, what we read and what we drive is continually broadcasting who we are and what matters to us.

We don’t need bumper stickers or t-shirts to proclaim what we believe in – everything we do shouts it loud and clear.

 

(1*)    You can see more on the politics of food here – https://mashable.com/2011/05/25/political-eating/#Y9ulLg_aFPqd or you could take a political food quiz here – http://time.com/4400706/republican-democrat-foods/.

(2*)    You can see more details on this study here – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/organization-and-political-leanings/