Free will is complicated. We all have it, and we all want it—as long as it is our own free will we are exercising. But it is more difficult when someone else is exercising their own free will—against our interests or better judgment. Whether it is a two year old throwing a tantrum or self-governing nations in armed dispute, it comes down to a battle of wills.
Of course we agree to submit to the will of others in many ways, for good reasons. So the parent must teach and protect the two year old, and in doing so denies the child her will, and properly so. Likewise, to organize ourselves into manageable communities we confer authority to our governments, hopefully with working checks and balances. We agree to protect each other in these ways, and this is productive and an appropriate expression of community.
But what about the individual’s freedom to choose for him or herself in decisions that harm no others, but may be self-destructive? Where is the line between giving support and imposing your will on another to protect him or her?
The question presents itself: shouldn’t ones who are wiser or more knowledgeable or more objective or more experienced in some way be able to enforce their will on others, for the good of the others?
The answer is no.
Why not? Because free will is the underpinning of self—of identity, of self-realization, of Self-discovery. It is the foundation for independence and personal sovereignty. Free will is essential to successful individuation and emergence (incarnation) from the generative force field of life. Because we are each creators, creating all the time, it is an essential element of creation that we respect and preserve and protect the autonomy of each individual to choose what to say yes to and what to say no to. Even if we don’t think he is making the best or “right” choice.
In other words, you can’t be unless you are free to choose how to be. You are here as an extension and expression of your whole Self, spiritual, emotional, and mental as well as physical. You can’t fully express your uniqueness of spirit and life and insight and creativity unless you have free will. To do it however you do it. To choose whether to do or not do. It is better to choose and be wrong than to abdicate free choice.
Free will is the mechanism for expressing the divine through human presence.
We must allow each other to choose our own paths, even when we don’t understand why a particular choice is being made. In this way we make room to hold the creative possibility of others. We hold space for the divine expression of others. We may not know how or when or in what way that unique expression will unfold. But we must trust that it can, sure in the knowledge that we each bring unique perspectives and gifts into the world.
Our love and compassion and hope are ways in which we may hold another is his own Self light and support the generative opportunity of that free will. But we must be sensitive to the line between loving care and our own will or attachment to outcome. Hold space for another’s free will with loving detachment.