Free Will

 

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I have found it hilarious when people say, “I was made to do this!”. The sentence by its very construction is in passive voice, which means that the subject in this sentence is not the speaker, but rather an external force under whose mercy the speaker is. The speaker is the object here, being acted upon by the subject, who is not mentioned in the sentence. I know I sound like a Grammar Nerd- which I am!– but what I mean to point out is our insistence on shedding all responsibilities once we are caught in something unpleasant, and the swiftness with which we place the blame on someone else.

We are so busy being on the defensive, on trying to prove that we are totally blameless, that we end up coming across as people with no agency. When we are caught taking a bribe, we blame it on the on the one who offered us the bribe. When we are caught in the arms of another woman/man, we blame it on that woman/man and how they seduced us. Then there is always God to blame. “God has made me so!”, “God has made me a pedophile or an alcoholic”, “It is just in my blood”. Or the best of them all, “I was fated to do so”. But is it really so?

If we go by the biblical version, God gave man everything, and the best gift of them all was free will. God has given man the agency, the freedom, to decide for himself, to choose his life, to be free in short. Even if we go all the way back to the Garden of Eden, we can see how all the principal characters exercised their free will. Eve chose to believe the snake and doubt the words of God. She chose to eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Likewise, Adam chose to eat it along with her. He could have refused it, or could have questioned its origins. But he did not do so. He exercised his free will to eat it. Just like how he used his free will to blame her the moment things went south. He put all the blame on her and undercut his role in choosing to accept the fruit that she held out to him. She, likewise, blamed the serpent, who being the last one in the chain, had no one else to blame.

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I have often thought of us humans as Noble Gases. No matter how many lures the other members of the periodic table throw at us, we just refuse to bond. Unless the conditions are just so extreme or the lures just so tempting. That is why there are compounds like Xenonhexafluroplatinate or XePtF6. That is why I strongly believe that no one can make us do anything against our will until we actively choose to do so. This means that until we give in to their pleas and supplications, into their emotional blackmailing and threats, into their manipulations, we would not do what they have asked us to do.

So, instead of blaming others, or saying that “I was made to do so!”, know that you in fact chose to do so! You decided to bend under pressure and act as you were told. There is nothing wrong in that. We are humans after all, not super humans. We are frail and weak. And more so, we have the freedom to bend under pressure, to submit to others, to do as we are told, if that is what we want. But what is important is to understand that it was our choice that changed things, that we chose to give in.

Let’s see how differently things would have played out if Adam had accepted his mistake and apologized instead of blaming Eve. He could have said, “I am really sorry but when she offered that fruit to me, I was just so empted that I ate it!”. This would have moved the heart of Eve, enough to have her repent too. So that by the time God would ask her, she wouldn’t blame it on the serpent but rather say something along the lines of, “I am sorry but the fruit looked just so tasty and shiny that I had to eat it!”. This would have touched the serpent too and he would have just burst into tears, saying, “I just needed your attention, God! You were just so busy with creation and these humans that you forgot that you had me too! And just because I was a bit proud, you banished me!” God would have just embraced all three of His children and the story would have been an happily ever after.

It is only when we accept our mistakes that we realize we have agency, we have freewill. Only then can we act on that freewill to bring about a change. So the next time you are caught red-handed, don’t go ballistic saying someone made you do it. Just own up and say that you gave in. That you weren’t noble enough. That you are Xenonhexafluroplatinate but actively trying to break your bonds, to be free.

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