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Making choices that help society
Kunal Lahiry is a student at Gainesville High School. He placed third in the Gainesville Evening Optimist Club’s essay contest. He is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Anup Lahiry.
One cannot have the best of both worlds. For example, Daniel Webster had to sacrifice his stubborn views on slavery for the betterment of the American Union when he chose to advocate Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850.

But is that not what choices are all about: making sacrifices? Did Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray not have to sacrifice morality for aestheticism and inevitably face the consequences? A choice can not be made without a sacrifice evident in the clear denotation of the word "choice."

Some sacrifices are rewarding, such as the success of Webster's advocacy, whereas an equal amount disastrously fail, exemplified through Gray's choice and subsequent death. This uncertainty of the outcome of one's choices is what gives the action such weight and importance.

The game of analyzing probability and hypothetical situations to try and foretell the result of a choice is what leads one to an internal quagmire. The responsibility is overwhelming. As Robert Frost expresses, "(I'm) sorry I could not travel both (roads)/ And be one traveler."

Although I can not see the potential "pot of gold" or the possible "dungeon of darkness," I still have to make choices, and in turn sacrifices that will directly or indirectly shape my future; but, it is not only my own choices that affect my life but everyone else's too - on international, national, and local tiers. All choices, regardless of size, shape my future.

When the American government invests an inordinate amount of money in subjects that I do not consider a priority, I become apprehensive, for I understand that the government's wasteful spending may inhibit me from enjoying certain entitlement programs, such as Social Security.

As the Iraq War diminishes our nation's monetary bone-structure into a $9 trillion deficit, our government has had to resort to Social Security funds in order to meet their needs. This national choice may possibly eradicate any pecuniary assistance that I hope to receive when I reach the appropriate age. This decision may endanger my envisioned future of tranquil retirement at a deserving time.

Choices made by others beyond my control may affect my life, but the same is also true for the choices I personally make. My choices and sacrifices may directly or indirectly inspire my peers locally to be morally genuine, or go as far as to aid strangers internationally with necessities.

This year, I chose to create an activist club to focus on international issues, such as the genocide in Sudan, demonstrating the principle of giving without always getting; although I may not be gaining anything from my activism in material terms, it is actually true that I have attained a heightened sense of altruism and compassion, along with a sense of utmost gratefulness for what I have.

It is somewhat paradoxical how such a foreign and distant involvement can impact my future so directly with these invaluable characteristics. By choosing to help others in need, and by sacrificing my time to the alleviation of international pain and suffering, I am helping to shape someone else's future, too; thus modeling myself after the selfless Daniel Webster rather than the egocentric Dorian Gray.

Through my choice to lead my peers in an ethically enhanced route, along with my sacrifices in order to assist others in need, I have not only helped to change my future, but our society's as well.

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