Saturday, February 9, 2013

I Gotta Goooo! Free Will?

You do what you
HAVE to do.
I gotta go now, please.

If you have ever been on a road trip with a young child, words similar to these are familiar. The biological drive to eliminate bodily wastes is one we can control. Kind of.  Sometimes.  We are able to post pone it for a bit. With age and practice we may be able to 'hold' it longer. Eventually though, we must all heed natures call. When we get even older, our capacity to wait diminishes and the pressure can become greater.

Free will is like this. We have the ability to observe and choose what we do, only to a limited degree.

We do not want to go in our pants. We do not want to go in public. We want to go as soon as we are practicably able. We monitor our condition and suppress our urges when we can. We give into our urges when we must.  Our urges and our requirement to eliminate bodily waste is not a choice.  They just are.

We follow cultural conventions.
We would like to think, we are in total control of ourselves. Our society expects us to act in certain ways, restrain from doing unacceptable behaviors. Culture and parents teach us do do those things which are considered good and right. If we look closely at what we really are, we find a different case. Free will is often about when we do what we were going to already do. If you don't think this is the case, try to hold back your bladder for a day. Report back on your experience.

Occasionally our decisions, our free will, allows us to make big decisions that change the path of our lives or those around us. Should I marry her? Is that the right job to take? What classes shall I take in school? Some acts of free will have big consequences. We make a choice and it affects our potential futures.  Often these acts are only consequences of previous choices.  If I did not take that class, I would not have gotten that job and she would not have married me.

These kinds of big free will decisions are rare. The rarity is a good thing. Making life altering decisions every day takes a toll on us emotionally, physically and socially. Changing ourselves in drastic ways tears apart the social infrastructure that makes our lives simple and pleasant to live.

Previous decisions limit us.
Most decisions we make have little or no real impact on the course of our lives. Should I eat an apple or a pear? Do we watch this TV program or that one? Which pair of socks will I put on today? If you could take a step back from your life and observe it, you would find that these decisions are often based on habits of behavior. The trivial decisions are often pre-determined from previous decisions, our environment, or even just who we biologically are.

Free will is only an occasional choice in a particular moment, often with limited consequences. Humility teaches that most of the time, we drift by habit and expectation along an already chosen path.

1 comment:

  1. Up til now I've never commented when visiting this blog, but this post inspired a choice unlike previous decisions...or did this post make me comment? Hmm...