Saturday, July 6, 2013

Destiny Vs Freewill




"A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it" - Jean de La Fontaine
I don't know if it's the poet in him that said those words or the experiences in his life, but I have often wondered if our destiny is predetermined or if we make our own destiny with the choices we make!

When we are successful it is easy to think and say, "I worked hard and made some good choices and hence I am successful in life".

The optimist in me wants to  believe that our life is decided by nothing but our own and our very own choices. It helps me think that as long as I have the will and I work hard I can make anything happen. But the realist in me takes one peek at the world outside only to find people more hardworking than most other people to be down on luck and struggling even to provide for themselves and their families.

I see helpless kids abandoned by parents, growing up in foster homes or even worse on the streets. I see people being in the right place at the right time and doing all the right things and still ending up in the worst possible place.  
Ask a mother who lost a child if it was her choice. Ask a child whose parents are dead or are in prison if he chose for them to be away from him. Ask the kids that have been abused in the worst possible way by their own fathers if they chose to be born to such fathers.

So how true it really is that everything that happens is a result of our own actions? Is it destiny or freewill that's at play? Or do they co-exist?

It seems to me that the people at the giving end, be it good or bad, seem to have a lot of freewill but the ones at the receiving end seem to accept it as their fate.

For ex: The recent Connecticut shootings - To us it seems like the shooter obviously used his freewill to kill so many people. He could probably have chosen to control his urges but he did not. As a result many innocent kids were killed. There was nothing the kids or their parents could have done to avoid that incident.

So what does this mean - that one person's freewill decides others' destiny, or is it the other people's destiny that materialized by making this one person act the way he did. If the latter is true, was it even his freewill in the first place to do what he did or was it his destiny to change the lives of so many people for worse?

Every day we make choices in our lives starting from 'whether to wake up, dress up and go out or to sleep in' to 'who we decide to say yes to marry and spend the rest of our lives with'.
So it is difficult for the rationalists in us to believe that we have no freewill at all. It offers us no incentive to believe that we cannot make our lives creative and meaningful by our choices and decisions. So it probably is essential for us to believe in freewill or we will be paralyzed at many levels.

May be it's the fighter in us that wants us to believe that we have freewill but how much freewill a person really has will forever be an unsolved puzzle and an unanswered question.

Please feel free to post your comments and let us know what your take is on destiny and freewill.

- Shilpa A. Adavelli


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