My book”see my book” and this blog seeks to aid the search for the authentic self, but I believe 90 percent of the world wants to obey. I believe their one and only single free will choice is what or whom to obey.
Freedom is fraught with anxiety and confusion. Freedom requires an endless chain of considered choices. Freedom is a world without red lights and green lights. It is not easy.
As this anxiety builds, the person makes a selection of choices that dictate behavior and mental processes. Religious choice probably contains the largest and most detailed of dicta. Christian, Jewish, Islam, Buddhist, etc. each having within them further choices finally arrives at a host of rules and dictates that control one’s daily and life-long choices. A strong second world of rules is cultural. National cultures, ethnic cultures, regional cultures all have stated or implied rules of behavior and thought.
Add in a variety of other sources of rules or expectations proceeding from schools, professions, affiliations, government, families, and you have little wiggle room left for independence or free choice. Diet books, health books, advice books and fashion further seek to dictate behaviors and limit choice.
We all champion freedom. We all like to think of ourselves as free, particularly in America. At least, in America, we get to make the first choice. There are whole countries and cultures where even the first choice of free will is unavailable. You are simply told from birth what you will worship and obey and you are surrounded by enforcers.
Run your day through your mind and consider how many choices you make are truly free. Look about you and see how dictated is your environment. Peer pressure alone is a significant influence. Even abstract theories, ideas, influence your choices. How many of your choices or life components are a result of belief in global warming, or protecting the environment, or political correctness….all ideas that are drumbeats in your daily life.
Now consider all of the above and visualize what a narrow slice of life remains available to free choice. “Am I in your play, or are you in mine” becomes pervasive. You are in a vast variety of plays, some of which you chose, none of which is of your own authorship. Even selecting what you want to eat off of a menu is less a matter of what you would like to eat, but more a matter of what you should or shouldn’t eat.
Freedom is hard. A daily litany of choices is stressful. It’s fifty/fifty that you will make the wrong choice. Existential angst is a real burden. What to do? What to do?
I think a healthy exercise is to review one’s daily life, as well as one’s larger life picture, and list and evaluate the various components as to which is a free choice, and which is a choice derived from another source and its influences. I suspect you will be shocked to see how little is a free and personal choice. If it is a larger proportion, you deserve to give yourself props.