Last week I lost my will to post on topic to the Daily Post Challenge Questions. Decided I would not respond compulsively to every question. However, the topic of do I believe in Free Will keeps nagging me. Nagging works some time. I didn’t respond the day it was posted–life was beating me down-but I am bouncing back and responding now. The question in case you haven’t figured it out was “Do you believe in Free Will.” I do not.
Frightened me how many shouted out a big “Yes!” Some, realizing that in this life some things are not a matter of will alone, shift the blame to the world lived in before this one. Reincarnation espouses the idea that the good or bad reaped in this world is directly tied to behavior in a previous world.
Well, I like that thought, just as I like the thought we move onto another better world when we die providing we have been kind and caring here. I don’t like saying as some do that moving to a better world depends on which or how you worship one or another higher power.
Comforting thoughts keep beliefs alive. There is an additional, often unmentioned, comfort found in the belief we have free will. Believing we choose all we have or become provides three different rewards depending on where you are on life’s success scale. Hope is one, control another, and guilt relief the third.
Still striving? Hope and control walk together in those seeking success. Control leads the way; without faith in your personal control, you can only submit to fate; that is almost as bad as believe you control all.
Achieving your definition of success while believing you control all makes your success sweeter than honey. Of course, the down side remains. Don’t achieve success and you are the reason why you are a failure. The harder you try, and the more you fail, the more painful the failure.
When you believe in free will, success provides guilt relief in mega-doses. Believing you have earned all you have makes ignoring the needs of those around you easy. When there are desperately poor people dying outside the sumptuous palace walls, the king can ignore the poverty by thinking he earned the right to rule. Think the Divine Right of Kings. Jerome Kagan, my Harvard researcher guru, makes the point that belief in karma and reincarnation is highest in those countries where wealth and poverty are unevenly divided. Think India’s caste system.
The solution does not lie in an either/or answer to the question of free will. There is choice, there is freedom, and there is luck or fate or Karma or what ever else is used to comfort success or failure.
STAYING STRONG TIPS: First, know your choices. Second, pick goals that match your ability and resources. Three, practice acceptance. Fourth, one choice that can always be made is to share and care. Kindness matters and can usually be chosen. More about that usually in tomorrow’s post.
Share, care and stay strong.