May 23, 2013

The Theory of Freewill

Growing up in a Catholic environment, I've always been taught that humanity is blessed with the gift of freewill. We can choose our own path and decide how we should live our lives... granted, of course, that we adhere to what is written in the fine print: we must not sin or do anything to offend our neighbor or our God. "Be free, but act responsibly," is what they say. Having all these restrictions when exercising freewill made me wonder: what does it really mean to be free? 

The essence of being "free" is being able to obtain--or to experience--something without cost, or without expecting anything in return. It is not barter, nor is it collateral. Thus, something that is free should not be restricted to any sort of liability, accountability or responsibility. If anything happens to you as a result of obtaining or experiencing that thing that is free, there should be no loss nor need for regret. Nakuha mo nga ng libre eh.

Most of us would want freewill to work this way, and some of us actually believe it. It would be a romantic notion to think of ourselves as makers of our own destiny, but the harsh reality is that we will always be prisoners of something bigger than ourselves: social norms, our own principles, rules of the institution, gravity, mortality, economics, or even the simple fear of what others may think. We, as humans, are expected to behave rationally--tamed, if you may--and this doesn't really mesh well with the *real* meaning of being free.

I'm not saying that it is pointless to think, or to make decisions, or to have an opinion about anything.  I'm not saying that we should abandon our dreams and leave it up to destiny, either.  If anything, I admire other people's courage to stand up for what they believe in and what they think would make their life better.  It's just that oftentimes, to some twisted extreme, our obsession to be somebody, or to be heard, or to exercise our personal freedom, would cause us to overlook the fact that we aren't alone in this world.  Yes, we want to change the world, but we try to change the world to our liking... just like everybody else.  Life is bigger than ourselves, and sometimes we exercise our freewill in the most immature, spoiled ways.  The main flaw in our logic, I think, is that we think that the right to exercise freewill is contained within ourselves; individually.  But the reality is, freewill is interconnected; your right to exercise freewill affects another's right to exercise his freewill.

Freewill isn't always exercised by making a pro-active decision, it can also be exercised by taking the backseat once in a while; letting others grab opportunities for a change.  This doesn't mean that we should stop chasing dreams that come our way, rather, we should just learn to let go of some of our obsessions--regardless if these are meant for us or not.  This being said, I think that we shouldn't beat ourselves up too much, each time we let go of a potentially life-changing opportunity.  If freewill is a gift, and if it is indeed given to us, I think it's best to share it with others and not let the troubles of the world get to us.


  1. Free will is always a messy topic. Haha.
    Strictly speaking, I don't really believe that anyone is totally free. All we are is the product of the interaction between the world and ourselves.

    1. Yeah... and for everything else, there's MasterCard.