Monday, February 1, 2010

the tyranny of free will

Nothing illustrates the difficulties we have with free will better than our relationship with cars.

In January, 4 facts struck me:
- On the 5th, a Cavalier was t-boned by a semi. The front passenger died.
- On the 26th a head on collision between a Honda Civic and a a Chevy Trailblazer killed parents of 12 children.
- On the 30th Honda recalled 140,000 Honda Fits because a single power window switch over heated, started the car on fire, and killed a child.
- On the 22nd Toyota began the recall of more than 7 million vehicles of various models because the gas pedals may stick.

The latter two events cause world wide media coverage, escalating costs for manufacturers and dealers simply for the fix (let alone the damage to their future businesses). The first two caught headlines for a day and were then relegated to the local news pile.

Both had equally tragic deaths. Why the disparity? The deaths in the first two weren't even attributable to alcohol by the driver or active freewill by the passengers (merely passive).

Free will. The "oppression" of the manufacturers on the general public is far greater (and in need of more grave correction) than the active freewill of individual drivers. Manufacturers need to spend millions of dollars or public relations and repair to undo the grevious harm they have inflicted on society. The car "accidents" are merely another circumstance of modern living.

We accept so much for the sake of freewill.


  1. you know, sometimes you just need to pay if you expect to get something good. I mean, c'mon this obsession of yours with getting a free will, I am sure a lawyer would not charge much to write up your will.

  2. two challenges that we currently face are bedfellows to free will(IMHO) and they are 1) paranoia and 2) the influence of critical mass.

    1) the fire of paranoia in today's day is so easily fueled with mainstream media, advertising manipulation creating a false sense of control and our self absorbtion. Firstly the media is so much about shock to ensure that you tune in and stay tuned in just so that they can sell advertising it has lost almost all semblance of value to the community at large. The media is quite ok with driving us into a state of fear because it keeps us in our homes glued to their source of "truth". Advertising, sadly hand in hand with the "news" media loves to give us a sense of control over the natural world through the use of their products. We can keep our houses free of germs, families free of harm and amass wealth and comfort all with their help. Unfortunately corporations cannot guarantee us control and so we get back into a state of fear about the risks to us and our loved ones. Lastly, I think we suffer from making ourselves and our loved ones too important in our minds eye. I think when we become self centred we lose touch with the reality of our species and our role in the universe (heavy heh?) Erwin McManus in Soul Cravings believes that self absortion also makes us less self aware which compounds the issue of our paranoia when we don't realize who we are and how we fit in. The challenge to combat this feeling of doom, lack of personal choice and a mirrors all around lies in trusting the unknown. Begin with trusting that no space beast is about to spot our tastey little planet and end our existance in one bite and then move from there. Seriously we have no choice as a highly intelligent species but but stop our creative minds from manufacturing potential doom and instead let it work on satisfaction from the unknown and the task of making it work beautifully.

    2) since our lovely planet is inhabited by some ~7 billion people we are able to have signifigant influence. Consider for a moment further that in the next 90 years they expect our population to grow by more than ~2 billion more and you start to wonder about a lot more than which real estate market to invest in. in human history those changes that have seen the support of the critical mass took off like a rocket, and its not always about human advancement. the question at hand then is what initiative that it not profit motivated do humans need to gain critical mass. our reality of free will is enclosed within the container known as our society and unless we are prepared to step outside of it, which is easier said than done, we are ultimately just playing with the choices given to us by the society, government and business that maintains life as we know it. So what do we need to kick off a viral influence on the critical mass? in a dreamworld free from the filthy stinking rich what would life look like? in our world the infrastructure underneath the critical mass (like the automobile) has such a dominating effect on what we could even trigger for change that we stumble and then don't. so to open up more opportunity for free will do we first need to create opportunity for change in our society's infrastructure such that choice is more possible? how does the critical mass change the very infrastructure it is standing upon? politics seems to be te democratic mechanism but it is so slow.

  3. In response to #2:

    Lately, I've been really feeling the oppression of the rat race. So many of our options are limited to predetermined pathways within a predesigned maze created for our control... and all I'm trying to do is get to the end so I can relax with some cheese.

    As much as I desire to exercise freewill and affect change, it seems too ambitious. 4/5 of my relationships or personal contacts revolve around the generation of profit (for me or someone else). The options available for my selections are continually hampered by the need to make money, further my career, and therefore provide for my family. In my own head, the only way out is to just get to the cheese faster...

  4. In response to #1:

    Capitalism gets me down sometimes... And the nightly news is enemy #1. As you say, they seem to pursue public hysteria because its good business. Was it ever any different? "You can't serve both God and Money" someone once said... And capitalism seems to continually erode altruism.

    Fortunately, there are those that behave contrary to the economic model. Volunteers, Charities... feeding the harmed, homeless and helpless... These are the ones that do not bow to Mamon. By supporting them (or being them) we step outside the maze, if only for a moment, and breath the free air.

  5. turn off the news, close the newspaper and do something meaningful in the life of another person. Show them God's love. That is your free will.