As I see it, choice and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
The power of free will rests in the power of choice.
Whenever we have the possibility of action, we have choice about what those actions will be.
I borrow a definition of choice here from Landmark Education - where
a choice is:
a free selection, after, but not based upon, reason or consideration.
That can actually take a bit of thinking about.
Any action has consequences.
Any person has the potential to free will.
Free will means action not necessarily related to any prior action.
Free will has the ability to break the chain of consequences, and establish new patterns (this can occur at any logical level).
Human beings rarely exhibit free will.
Whole industries (social workers, humanities studies, …) are devoted to the notion that people do not exercise free will, and are the "product of their environment". There is no doubt that this is true in many cases. It is also true that it need not be true of any case.
Many of our social institutions teach obedience rather than responsibility (schools, state, families).
To be human is to have the capacity to exercise free will (despite what lawyers, teachers and social workers might have us believe).
To exercise free will, and survive, one needs to be responsible of the consequences of one's choices.
Choice & Responsibility are thus intimately linked.
The danger of free will is that one cannot predict the outcome (by definition). This tends to make people who like predictability nervous (understandably).
Championing values such as "free will" is likely to meet strong opposition from some quarters. I take responsibility for this, and its consequences.
The notion of choice occurs at many levels.
We have little or no choice about the thoughts which randomly occur to us. We do have choice about how we choose to act, that is, what we do about the thoughts.
We also have choice about how we feel. Not choice about the feeling we have now - that is the result of past choices, but about the feeling we have next.
We can be sad, and choose happiness, angry and choose love, etc.
There is not any "right" way to "be". Just possible ways - each with consequences.
From a purely pragmatic perspective - evaluate the choices you have made, see what the effects have been.
What is it that you want?
What choices are you prepared to make to support those ideals ?
Some things achieve what we want, others don't. Few of us bother to stop and check out the difference.
What happens with your life, your culture, and your planet, are your choices.
One quote I've heard is "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome."
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