Is There Really Free Will

“He who can follow his own will is a king.” – Irish Proverb

We have been led to believe that we have a free will. Do we, really?

I think it is a very limited concept and not so free at all.

Think about it.

We are governed by our society, our class, and our immediate values.

We have to care about what our wants entail and how far we can go with expressing them. Who among us is so free, spontaneous, and uninhibited to allow ourselves to do just what we feel like doing whenever we choose to do it? No one!

There are cultures where it is common and indeed acceptable to relieve one’s bodily functions out in the open in public when the need arises. Not so in our country.

There are places in this world where free sex is not just tolerated but welcomed. Not so here.

There are places where… fill in the blank.

How free are we?

We are free to follow the mores and laws that surround us.

It is true people break these all the time and most get ‘caught’ and pay a price, or jail sentence. Some do get away with murder, real or imagined.

As far as the physical aspects; your freedom ends where my nose begins!

It is nice to believe we are free and indeed we are in many respects. We can speak our minds, except for yelling ‘Fire’ in a public place when there is no fire.

We can dress pretty much the way we choose. Unfortunately, that can raise eyebrows in many instances, but no harm.

We can move about pretty freely, and we can choose our professions and mates. This is not true in many parts of the world.

Often poor choices are made with this so-called freedom. But here again, we can use the experience for our future learning. Hopefully the poor decisions do not damage us for life. That is free will at its’ worst.

If we are acting freely under the influence of drugs, or alcohol, or another’s will we may make very bad decisions and act on them in harmful ways.

Recently, I watched a news report where a young man, a teenager, was out drinking and then drove his girlfriend home and had a traffic accident that ended with her dying. While he was punished and remorseful he ended up starting to speak to groups of young people about his experience and hoped they would avoid what happened to him.

That never would have happened without his bad decision to drive under the influence of alcohol.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy or horrible life event to get people to look at their decision-making process.

A totally free will would never be possible.

If it was we would have a chaotic world.

Sometimes the problems occur when one’s concept of freedom is at variance with another’s background and rules of behavior.

If I am free to do such and such and go about doing it and you are not, that can be a great disconnect.

This happens frequently in dating and relationships.

It might be a good idea to spell out and discuss the forms of behavior we want to tolerate and maybe even respect. At times we can change our own views when we think there is a better way.

What I would like you to understand and do may be quite different from what I am used to doing or expecting from a partner.

There is much to be said for being free, and we enjoy a lot of that as Americans. We often lose sight of the fact that many people in this world do not have that luxury.

In many places the laws, role, and family you come from dominate your life choices.  Here we can develop and do pretty much whatever our wishes and talents allow.

If I am free to be me, then it is easier for me to allow you to be free to be you. BUT, that takes a good bit of acceptance and understanding.

It is fun to be silly at times and to allow that part of yourself expression.

Those people who are always in control and checking every angle are often missing out on the fun of life.

They are responsible people true, but looking at everything that could go wrong, like a lawyer, makes life a bit tedious. That’s not really freedom.

Some people are too willful just to be stubborn or stand out. That is not a good thing.

As children we are under our parents’ authority and we submit to their will for approval and to avoid punishment. As adults, a lot of that remains and we have the same standards and behave accordingly. It is hard to shake those early messages. Some may be good but to be ourselves we need to evaluate the will we alone can exercise when we are responsible for ourselves. We also need to be aware of what we do as parents and how we force our will on our children.

If our will is out of sync with the rest of our society we may be creative in an effective way or we just may be different, and a bit crazy!

“If it’s got to be a battle of wills, I’ll fight the devil himself, as long as the necessity lasts. But it’s not my idea of life.” – D.H. Lawrence

Do you believe you act ‘freely?’ Where do you feel inhibited?

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One thought on “Is There Really Free Will

  1. Enjoyed this post. It reminded me of a thought from George Bernard Shaw:

    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

    Of course this “unreasonable man” might cause destruction and mayhem but whether he is good or bad, is he exercising free will?

    Like

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