Do we make our own choices or have circumstances beyond our control already decided our destiny? For thousands of years, this very question has intrigued and perplexed philosophers, scientists, and everyone who thinks deliberately about how they choose to live and act. The answer to this age-old riddle is universally relevant to our lives. The implications of our views on it can affect everything from small choices we make every day to our perspective on criminal justice and capital punishment.
The choices You Make dictate the Life you lead.
Most of us, most of the time, like to think we are in control of our own lives. We are the masters of our own fate. We make our own decisions. Whether politically liberal or conservative, we balk at government limitations on choice and fight those limits with legal arguments about rights and political rhetoric about freedom.
But why do we make decisions the way they do? And what does that mean in the context of the current threats to our species’ survival?
Whether big or small, simple or complex, choice creates the world around us. We interact with “things” – concepts, people, places and objects – in a way that engages us through our immediate surroundings. This type of personal engagement is the result of choice. Once received, you choose to positively or negatively interact with it. Whether it’s a simple “good morning,” complex task at work or buying ice cream, these interactions are everywhere. Over time, the aggregate results (from your choices) create momentum and perpetuate life. It’s endless, really.
But, does your conscious mind, the sense of being a “me,” have any say in the matter?
If you ask a question like this, you will quickly find yourself mired in a discussion about free will. I contend, however, that the question has nothing to do with free will. Why? because free will is a philosophical concept about the ultimate nature of the universe.
The law of freewill is: choice is based on awareness. Awareness is power because awareness gives you choice. Choice is an illusion when it is created by those in control for those who are not. To be in control, you must know. You must understand how things work and know what is going on. You need awareness to make conscious choices.
No matter how you look at it, life is filled with choices and subsequent consequences. Exercise and feel great. Indulge and be remorseful. Go to war and…well, you get the idea. This cycle is the yin/yang, tension/release and push/pull to every day. And no matter how advantaged or disadvantaged life may seem, we all have equal opportunity to make a choice. So much so that it can be considered a privilege, which embodies the true “idea” of choice.
Choice does, however, come with a price. We inherit responsibility and accountability for our actions. Over time, our choices create positive and/or negative momentum that becomes evident in everyday life. The ability to make conscious decisions increases the awareness of your immediate surroundings. You’ll soon begin to experience the impact of choice.
For some of us, the idea of choice may be more strongly linked to ideals such as independence from societal constraints. Even a minor focus on small choices can activate these ideals, leading us to overemphasize the role that choice has in shaping our life outcomes. However, the potential downside is that thinking about life in terms of choices may decrease our interest in helping others.
When viewed through the lens of choice, people’s misfortunes are seen as caused by the actions they’ve taken rather than situations they have encountered. This may seem to bode poorly for solving social problems that require cooperation. However, if cooperation and helpfulness are framed as expressions of choice and free will, we may become even more charitable.
It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.
While choice may come in varying degrees, the Idea of Choice allows every person to live equally with the responsibility and accountability of choice. Together, this responsibility and accountability place a high priority and focus on nurturing and cultivating your immediate surroundings. In this way, your immediate surroundings create a unique network of interactions that form a personal ecosystem.
So what’s the big deal? Why is the “personal ecosystem” so important? Take a moment or two to notice everyone around you. Look at and feel the space around you. Every person you see and think of creates an inter-linked web. This is your personal ecosystem. It creates every interaction you experience in life. In fact, these connections are your life.
Every person’s exchange with other people, ideas, places and things, is dictated by the flow of life. Your personal ecosystem affects this life stream by your choice to interact with life. Many people put forth questions about free will and predestination with the sole aim of justifying their “sinful” tendencies.
Some people think that God does not have freewill because he seems unable to act apart from his own nature. But the truth is God actually has free will. Choice is based on awareness and because God has perfect and total awareness, he always chooses based on his perfect and total awareness. Therefore he has perfect will and perfect will is like not having free will because perfect will does not act apart from perfect standards. God has the most freewill compared with all beings.
It seems as though perfect will is both free and not free at the same time. A paradox just like all extremes. Complete brightness is equally as blinding as complete darkness. So it seems that in order to experience perfection of life, we have to give up free will in order to follow perfect will. This is what it means by surrendering our will to God. Gaining awareness is the key to making perfect choices.
At the end of the day, we all choose whether or not to exist in a positive or negative state. The intent of our actions is completely personal and dependent on context. Either way, we make choices that impact our lives. And even though major life events may not always be controlled, we choose how to face these challenges.
Even if we are each part of some great master plan, our unique journey has more personal meaning when we choose it for ourselves. You make many choices every day. Whenever possible, choose the life you want.
Live and Learn. We All Do.
Thanks for reading. Please pass this on to someone who means something to you.