Suffering with Free Will

I Love the concept of free will, but what does it actually mean?  Well, according to the dictionary it means, “the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion.”  Simply stated, I have the power to act, be, or do, anything I decide I am freely willing to do, and whenever I am freely willing to do so.  That’s a lot of power entrusted to a mere mortal as me.  Especially a perfectly flawed mortal.  But what if the thing I choose to do has a negative impact on me?  Well, that’s the risk I take having it my way!  But what if the thing I choose to do has a negative impact on others?  Well, that’s just too bad because I have the right to do whatever I want.  Right?  But what if the actions of others have a negative impact on me?  Well that’s just not right!  Right?

Free will is not always free, nor without pain.  And it is certainly not without consequences – that whole “equal and opposite reaction” thing.  Or, “reap what you sow” stuff.  It’s bad enough that I have to suffer through the consequences of my own bad choices but suffering as a result of the bad choices of others is just not fair.  Yet I suffer.

Where do I get the rights to have a free will?  As an American, The Declaration of Independence, speaks about me having unalienable rights.  It says that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  Government is instituted to secure and protect these rights but are not the originators given the authority to grant or create, these rights.  These rights are given by God, and the American government, of the people and by the people, was founded to support these individual rights.  When government passes laws that restrict and interfere with these God given unalienable rights, then our government is acting outside the authority we the people and God the Creator, have given them.

What does free will look like for me?  That’s not a hard question.  We see the results of free will every day.  Since we’re talking about “we the people,” let’s just be very honest and stay on this subject for a moment.  In 1974, I exercised my right to vote in a U.S. election for the first time.  We voted for state and local politicians.  Nixon resigned and Ford became the first Vice President and President without being elected.  He wouldn’t actually run for office until the 1976 election.  I was fresh out of High School during the 1974 election and knew very little about politicians and cared even less about party.  I had seen too many of the older kids in the neighborhood come back from Vietnam in a coffin or as a drug addict, and politicians, to me, were the chickens that were sending kids to die in places where they would not go themselves.  There’s a good example of the free will of government leaders having a negative impact on others.  By the 1976 election I decided Ford’s elevation to the White House, was to restore hope to America after Nixon and Vietnam and decided there must be something divine about the way he got in office and voted for him.  It wasn’t that I disliked Carter, I just didn’t understand a man getting elected that no one knew, and his own state didn’t support.

So now that you know how I felt then, I’ll tell you a little of how I feel today.  I have never failed to exercise my right to participate in an election since my first in 1974.  And in every case, I felt I had to cast my vote for the lesser of two evils, regardless of party.  It is my opinion that none of our leaders are great, most are barely good, and many are criminal at best.  It’s easy to find out what the salaries of politicians are in the positions they get elected.  Those salaries don’t explain how people with nothing going into office can become multi-millionaires in only two or three terms.  That is corrupt; in my opinion.  It is also extremely hypocritical to have to listen to these leaders talk about evil rich people while they enrich themselves all while supposedly serving, we the people.  But that’s not what really bothers me the most.

I am truly disturbed at what must be the real condition of the hearts of we the people.  Because we the people voted these folks into office to represent us.  If the current sea of elected officials is the representation of, we the people, then we the people need some serious work on our hearts and minds.  Because the sick, angry, corrupt and vile hatred we see displayed from Washington every second of every day, is carried out by those that we the people sent there to carry out our free will.  At what point do we stop going down the path that can only result in the destruction of the greatest nation ever birthed and realize that we are only destroying ourselves by permitting this great abuse of free will to destroy us all?

There’s nothing new here.  History and even the Bible, is filled with stories of corrupt and evil leaders.  Millions have suffered and died under the leadership of the corrupt.  But Americans get to exercise free will to choose their leaders.  This is a freedom that we have which has resulted in a great nation because of its great people.  But, if this nation of great people fails to represent itself with truly great leaders, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

I read something I wasn’t expecting the other day in the Bible, the book of Joshua (read chapters 23 and 24).  Joshua was old and about to depart this life.  He had served under Moses, and after Moses died, Joshua finished the work of getting the people into the promised land.  He had gathered the people together and gave them a great re-cap of their forty-year journey from Egypt to the land of promise.

In Joshua 24:14 & 15 he said, “So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly.  Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt.  Serve the Lord alone.  But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.  Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates?  Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live?  But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (New Living Translation).

“But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve.”  This great leader, a man more interested in the will of God than his own will and even the will of the people made it rather simple to understand.  I can almost hear the nonchalant tone in his voice as he calmly says, “Hey it’s up to you, you have a right to free will, if you refuse to serve the Lord, then exercise that right and your free will to choose whom you will serve.”

Friends, God is not trying to cram any of this down our throats.  It’s our choice.  And once again it’s my opinion that we better start thinking about better choices for our families and choosing better leaders that represent our values (unless our values are corrupt) before it’s too late to save ourselves and our great nation.  Right now, many of us are suffering through the results of others exercising their free will.  We better start exercising our free will with insight and responsibility before it’s too late to matter.

Dr. Randall Mooney


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