To choose: To select freely, after and including deliberation, argument, debate, consideration, reflection.

It's time to choose, America.

Which way are we going?

President Clinton framed it well: "We can have a country where the winner takes all, and you, fellow American, are on your own, and good luck." OR: We can deal with and confront, like a potter confronts clay, that we're in this life, country, world together, collaboratively, demandingly at times, confronting with skill and compassion each other and our circumstances, and aligning on dealing with the huge gaps and opportunities we face: together.

CONSIDER: All turning points, all breakthroughs, all major innovations, are the result of people freely interacting, exchanging, testing and shaping each other's ideas. It is collaborative as much as competitive, and it is almost never the result of a lone-wolf operating in a vacuum. It is people in it together, discovering and inventing what's needed.

We do have the ability to hold each other to account, effectively, inside a shared vision that includes, and does not exclude.

We can stand for and empower each other.

To empower is to equip performers to perform, as in developing the skill sets and mindsets that allow someone to be resourceful. We do this fastest, cleanest and clearest, together.

To empower is to inspire and engage. Not merely out-argue, out-fox, out-run you, or order you around, but rather to work with you for what's possible, rather than against you for what's predictable.

To empower is to authorize, as in to make authority or decision-making rights available and accessible to you, and to assist you to generate resources sufficient to your projects.

Historically, our relationship to each other as human beings has been largely exploitative. Take. Get. Win. Dominate. and, yep, Kill. Especially us guys. Just read any of our history books and take a look. In the reading, by the way, notice that the exploitative mindset is taken as "a given" of human nature. As if it's "just the way it is." (Clint Eastwood, more than anyone, expertly dramatizes our resignation and cynicism and says it this way: "Reckon it's always been that way.")

We human beings have, sometimes with skill, sometimes without, exploited the land, the water, the air, the women, the men, our races, each other and just as often, ourselves, as in people often exploit their very own lives in ways that disable or limit them over the long term.

Exploiting oneself, for one example, can show up in our daily lives simply with our sugar and tobacco addictions: while "thrilling" in the short term, our addictions exploit and deplete us in the long term. The ability to see and collaborate for the long term in contrast with exploiting ourselves in the short term, is a critical mind set/skill set, for us all, and now.

Yet we tolerate, resign ourselves to, accommodate to, these exploitations, and continue to exploit, including ourselves. We say "it's one's private business." We daily make choices that exploit ourselves or each other, including where we exploit our families, our schools, our country, our companies, our position, our privileges, our races, our genders.

None of this occurs privately, individually, or in a vacuum. You and I are social creatures and social animals, and we interact as such through birth, life and death. Your private choice, my private choice, has public impacts, as do all private choices.

Example: One's tobacco and sugar habits generate very real costs in tax and insurance dollars for everyone else. Be clear: there is no freedom or liberty in a vacuum. In life as actually lived, we develop with each other what we consider to be "freedom" or liberty. No one wants to be constrained unnecessarily and no one who's sane thinks that they live in a vacuum, alone, independent of the world. As Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "your freedom to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose."

So, we DO get to choose. We can have an America that is given by the pretense that freedom means being alone, the winner takes all, good luck. OR: WE can recognize the inexorable fact that we're in this together, already, and always have been. We're born in, live in, and die in this together, and our ability to interact responsibly, and creatively, even joyfully, for and with each other, is key to what life is, and can be.

Go it alone?

OR: In it together?