Free Willy

In 1993, “Free Willy” erupted on the movie scene.  It was a story about a young boy who befriended a killer whale, who was going to be killed by the aquarium owners.  The boy risked everything in order to set the whale free.

Free will is something that we all have.  We sometimes take it for granted.  Many times, we misuse our free will.  Sometimes, we even forget we have free will and we just march along behind the crowd without giving any thought to our reasoning behind the choices we make.  So, it is time that we risked everything and freed our will.

It is only when we recognize and fully appreciate our choices in life that we are truly free.  The majority of people get stuck in a rut of everyday work and everyday home life.  They become robotic in their movements and thinking, if you want to call it thinking.  A better phrase is “mind numbing.”

In the big cities, most people just follow the crowd into the subway going to work, walking along the busy sidewalks, pouring into crowded elevators, and sitting down at an office chair in a cubicle with harsh lights overhead.  In smaller cities, most people grab a cup of coffee, drive the same streets to work, park the car in the same spot, and greet the same people the same way in what may be termed a “Groundhog Day.”  Do any of these people appreciate their choices in life?

Even when the light bulb comes on and we make conscious decisions, what is good and what is bad?  Ethical enlightenment shines brightly on free will, but we still will make decisions that may be considered as bad by society or by laws or by family and friends, or even by us.  If you are simply following guidance from others, including parents, peers, or society, you are not making personal choices.

Although this statement may be controversial, I believe that we must commit sins and sink to a depressed state as part of the process of attaining freedom.  Certainly, being trapped in a lifestyle of evil and regret or even being trapped in society’s drudgery and daily grind is like being a slave to sin.  Freedom is a personal decision to stop making bad choices.  In order to do this, we must think outside the box without even touching the box.  Your thinking must belong to you and you alone.  Your decisions must belong to you and you alone.

Since I have never met anybody who hasn’t sinned, everybody has made poor decisions.  The first step is to admit that you have a problem.  Leave your excuses in the box that you are not touching any more.  Now that you are outside the box, face your frailties and weaknesses with a stern self-discipline that will not give in to temptations.  It is the awareness of sin and the appreciation of your control and power to make good choices that leads to exercised free will.  It is when you free your will.

We make decisions based on many things:  peer pressure, society, laws, family, how we were raised, our experiences, our personal desires and needs, and our personal moral fabric.  Many professionals argue that we make decisions based on genetics, while others maintain that we make our choices based on our experiences.  Nature vs. nurture.  As a practical matter, it doesn’t matter.  It is probably a little of both, but the bottom line is not nature or nurture.  The bottom line is you choosing what you want to do and then doing it.

Now, the tougher question is:  What is good and what is bad?  And who makes this call?  Well, I believe the answer is that you do.  Your peers, family, and society can go to hell.  It is your call based on what you think is right and wrong.  Now, it may be true that some people are so mentally disturbed that they truly don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but you do know the difference.  So, you should be held accountable for your selections.

What do I mean held accountable?  Do I mean by police and society?  Well, in some cases that is true, but I am talking primarily about how you think about yourself and your decisions when you look in the mirror at the end of the day.  And not all people will react the same way.  Some criminals have hardened their hearts to making bad choices.  But, they too will be held accountable some day.  But held accountable by whom?

Well, society and its laws may provide consequences if they are ever caught.  But I am talking about significant punishment after death.  How do I know there will be consequences?  Well, I don’t, but I do know that there must be a reason why we are the only animal on the planet with free will.  It would be absurd if we were provided free will and there were no consequences.

We have little control over the objective world, but we can make good decisions in the subjective world.  The journey to understand our inner self is very important because that may be all we take with us if we are still thinking after death.  Your free will may be put to the ultimate test in the afterlife.

For example, what would you do if you were offered a pain-free afterlife if you participated in torturing other souls?  You might even justify this based on your belief that the other souls committed worse sins than you did.  But if your conscience allowed you to do that, you might find yourself in Hell.  In order to travel through the afterworld, you will have to unify your self-discipline and thinking with the Creator.

Even if you die and that is the end (in other words, you are not thinking), making good choices will improve your life and the lives of others in the world.  It is a good thing no matter what, so there is no downside to making good decisions.

Good and Bad

What is good and what is bad?  The answer may vary from society to society or culture to culture or even person to person.  However, most of us have a pretty fair idea of what is good and bad based on our instincts and experiences.

Yet, our species delivers the best and worst of all in the animal kingdom.  It is remarkable how the same person can be exceedingly good for a moment and, in the next second, extremely bad.  What causes Homo sapiens to flip flop between these extremes, sometimes without a transition?

One theory is that our emotions carry us back and forth from one extreme to the other.  If we do not control these emotions or if we have mental issues, such as being bipolar, this can happen quite often.  Most citizens attempt to moderate their emotions during good times, but this can change when times become difficult.  This can also change when people give in to temptation.  For example, a man who led a boring life with his wife found a more exciting woman at work.  The man would do everything good that he could for his wife, and then he would run to his extramarital affair without breaking stride.  How could the same man do good and bad?

There are cases of next-door neighbors, described as quiet and passive, who turn out to be serial killers.  Even though these are the exceptions in society, we still find many people who are nice and generous, who turn into angry, hateful citizens with little warning.  That is why it is very dangerous to rely on just dating for a few hours, several days a week to tell you all the need to know about a person.  You have to live with that person 24/7 in order to find out if they have a good-to-bad switch.  Alcohol, drugs, money, and sex are some of the typical triggers for the Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde complex.

Other animals do not appear to have these emotions that drive us to extreme positions.  Fear, envy, love, lust, anger, and hate are just some of the far-flung emotions that drive us to doing things that we normally would not do.  Let’s examine a man who becomes obsessed with a very attractive woman.  He might initially have been afraid to talk to her, so he may have watched from a distance.  Then he may have envied the gentleman who dated her for a week, but he might have loved her once they stopped dating.  This love may have turned to lust as he thought about what he wanted to do to her.  Then he might have become angry because he could not have her, which could have turned to hate when he decided to kill her.

So throw emotions on our free will to make choices and it is like throwing kerosene on a fire.  Homo sapiens are different from other animals in that our decisions are clouded by emotions.  Most animals act on instinct and primal needs to obtain food or procreate.  People are all over the board, depending on which emotion is pushing the action.

Q. Why can’t we exercise more self-control?  A. Probably, because emotions are similar to drugs.  They take over your mind and body, pushing you into taking extreme actions, usually bad.  The best approach is to “just say no to emotions” when they first pop up.