For those who believe if-you-dream-it-you-can-do it, this is not for you.
We’re told we come in two parts: Intellect and will. Intellect is what distinguishes us from the rest of the animals. Will is what we choose to do with that intellect. You know, change our outfit…run that light…marry this person…join Scientology.
But I’m here to say our much celebrated “free will” is hardly free. Frankly, it’s at he whiplash end of every new whim around us. Our political opinions…? According to Pew research, they are the last political talking head on cable, where we now get most of our campaign news. Our cultural opinions …? Probably a tie among the last best-seller we read, music concert we cheered, and movie we wept through. Our philosophy of life…? A tie between the last sermon we heard and wake we attended.
Bottom line — the most crowded place in the world is a bandwagon!
Look, we’re human, so we go where the action is. Where the herd is going. Where we get reinforced. If that abuses your sense of worth, notice the next time you’re in an audience and start to applaud the music only when the others do…as you laugh when those around you do…oh and how you too now rise for that pre-requisite standing ovation at the end.
Freud and especially Jung were good at explaining this. Dostoevsky and Hemingway did a good job too. Or simply attend a championship game, get into a political rally, or find yourself in a holiday shopping spree. That proud perky “free will” you like to strut, it suddenly starts marching to the loudest beat it hears around it.
Despite our best protestations, our vaunted “free will” is as susceptible as the next marcher. Check the records: Caesar’s legionaries, Napoleon’s Grand Army, Hitler’s Third Reich, O. J.’s jury, the next time your attend an angry PTA meeting with the superintendent.
We tend to sell our free will much too cheaply. At that rate, we’re going to keep buying the loudest cheapest band we meet….
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