“Free will” doesn’t exist. Oh sure, the old argument is that we are all created with a free will . . . and that we always have choice to do whatever it is that we want to do . . . but, I don’t think there is such a thing as “free will”. The only exception I would make for that is the individual who is truly narcissistic. Only the person who is truly a narcissist –who only thinks of him or herself—thinks that he or she has “free will” to decide however he or she pleases. The problem with the narcissist is that he or she doesn’t acknowledge—is in denial—to the fact that every decision has ramifications beyond him or herself. Because of that the narcissist lives a delusion of “free will”—it doesn’t exist except in his or her mind.
The word narcissism comes from the Greek myth of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus "lay gazing enraptured into the pool, hour after hour", and finally changed into a flower that bears his name, the narcissus. (Symington, Neville (1993). Narcissism: A New Theory; H. Karnac Ltd. pp. 6–7.)
I am probably not the best theologian . . . or the best philosopher . . . or the best psychologist to be dealing with the topic of “free will” or narcissism. At best I probably dabbling in them just enough to get myself in trouble. But, I can no longer accept the theory that humans have “free will”. I have seen too many of the consequences when it comes to this idea of “free will”—there is nothing “free” about “free will”. Every choice, decision, or action has a consequence . . . has a rippling effect that touches many.
With choice comes responsibility. With choice comes a moral obligation. I think that only a person who cannot acknowledge others in his or her life, who cannot see the invisible intricate webs between them and others, and only thinks of him or herself, might have a sense of “free will”. Delusion or denial—it doesn’t matter as it is not “free will”.
The bottom line is that the choices and decisions that any of makes has some sort of an effect upon others. None of us is truly an island unto him or herself. I remember that I could not wait to move out of the house once I graduated high school—couldn’t wait to be out in the world on my own. And, when the opportunity came I went to college 1,500 miles from my family. Outside of one summer and Christmas holidays I never did go home. That decision, which I was told was mine to make as it was my life, changed the relationships in the family. Even to this day, I am not as close to my siblings and the rest of the family as most families are . . . distance does make a difference. My decision—my choice—changed forever the dynamics within my family . . . and, bridging the distance has never been easy. “Free will”? There was nothing “free” about it.
In a narcissistic society—which pretty well sums up our society, we are implored to just go out and “just do it!” The words that we read . . . the images that we see . . . they all tell us to grab all the gusto life has to offer each of us and damn the rest. If it was “free will” to do this then why do I feel so bad when I stop and consider the consequences of my choices and decisions . . . when I consider all those who have been touched by my choices and decisions? I guess I just don’t do this “free will” thing very well.
I don’t think that God ever intended us to have “free will”—the freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want. In the Old Testament of the Bible the Israelites were always getting in trouble because they kept choosing to do whatever they wanted while forgetting everyone else. They ignored the poor, those with disabilities, the widows . . . and, God. The Old Testament is filled with stories of God dealing with this problem of delusion and denial.
In the New Testament Jesus tells everyone that the goal of life is to love God with one’s whole being and to love others. Nowhere does Jesus say to love only one’s self and nothing else. No, he said to love one another. There is no “free will” when it comes right down to it because we are to live God’s will.
“Free will”—if there is such a thing—is a tough choice. Nonetheless, I guess it is a choice. One that each of us has to decide on our own as to what we are going to do. Ignore God and others to do whatever we want to do—damn the consequences; or, give it and do God’s will—to love God and others completely. I guess it is our choice . . . whatever any of us chooses to do, may it be done with the knowledge that it will change our lives and the lives of others forever. At least it won’t be some boring remake about a whale finding freedom.
There is no “free will” . . . it is a rippling across the lives of others.