Freewill: Asset or liability?

Vedic texts suggest that in order to have a natural, reciprocal, mutually engaging relationship with his creation, God accorded freewill to all spiritual entities. However, few entities, in resemblance to God, wanted to be able to enjoy independently and be the lord. Such entities were then sent to this material world with freewill to enjoy and to lord over illusory material nature.

Thus by arrangement of God, everyone born in the human form is  entitled to and has freewill.

We can very easily observe people around us freely & frequently exercising their freedom – political, of expression, of vocation, of religion, of consumption. While for a minority, due to perversions in our socio-economic systems, opportunity to freely decide & act on certain matters is still restricted but they seem to be mounting social and political pressure to be able to get that right back.

Freewill seems to be highly valued possession for which a lot many are willing to put at risk their lives and careers. However, interesting part is this populous is devoid of their right, their freewill only due to the non-discriminating use of freewill by some one else.

So in essence while freewill is the key to a just and balanced society, it also seems to be the root cause of oppression and unfairness where it is used irresponsibly.

“Responsibility is the price of Freedom” 

said American writer & philosopher, Elbert Hubbard

Key to a sustainable and cohesive system is to judiciously and responsibly use our privilege and freewill. However, even beyond some of these extreme situations of political oppression and human-right situations, it is disturbing to note that majority of us who do have freewill in all matters seem to be exercising it without any restrain and thought.

It is imperative to understand that in an interdependent ecosystem ‘No right or privilege is absolute’. 

There are always certain unstated riders, assumptions, caveats with any form of privilege; if not for anything else for our own good. However, our current generation seems to be acting in completing ignorance of this fact and seems to adversely impacting the four realms we deal with – Planet earth, People around us (friends, family, community), Other living beings and Our own self.

In our mindless practicing of no-holds barred consumerism, we seem to be extracting revenge on the very planet that supports our existence. We use almost 5 trillion plastic bags every year – 160 thousand per second and pollution has now become 8th leading cause of premature deaths. Global warming and more frequent droughts and floods are reminding us every day of what our uncontrolled, uninhibited actions are leading us to.

Relationships with other people are under tremendous strain – be in our houses, offices or amongst countries. Almost 50% of all marriages end up in divorces in US while the divorce rates have trebled in metro cities in India as well. People are not hesitant or reluctant to exercise their freewill and break away from marriages for the sake of convenience. Exploitation at workplace seems to be the norm with the leading companies getting embroiled in one controversy or other – Uber seems to be the latest in the ring. Restrain seems to be the dirty word in a go-get it corporate culture. Geo-political risks are stacking up and regional instability is on the rise owing to the temperamental and not so mindful leaders at the helm of affairs who wont’t hesitate to press the button. Lack of empathy and uncontrolled use of our temporary position of strength is also very much visible in the rising incidences of terrorism.

If we look at the plight of other living entities, no one but freewill of human beings is to be blamed. Our marine life is at risk owing to the unrestrained dumping of plastic in our oceans while a large number of species in our forests are becoming extinct due to poaching and deforestation. Natural habitats of many have been affected due to mass industrialisation, mining and other commercial activities. Meat & Poultry industry is another cruel undertaking where millions of livings beings are tortured, killed everyday only to fulfil the taste buds of humans.

On a personal front, our freewill has become so perverted that we are in effect loosing our will-power.

This is costing us dearly where we are unable to manage our physical, mental, social & spiritual wellbeing while being tossed around by the impulsive urges to consume and to gratify our senses in as many ways as we can. Social norms designed to encourage moderation & social cohesion are being perceived as limitations and a threat to our individual freewill. This self-destructive practice of freewill has already put us on a slippery slope where more number of people are suffering from hyper-tension, depression and are finding it difficult to strike a balance.

We all live in a dynamic world which primarily operates on a mutual give-get model where one set of actions guarantees another set of reaction, be it physical, emotional or social. While we are noting that this privilege and freedom in form of freewill has great potential to do good but unrestrained, uncontrolled and unguided freewill has also done lot of damage. If we continue in the same detrimental mode, we must be ready to face more strong and adverse reactions from our planet, people around us and even our own mind.

While without freewill, this world will be a monotonous, mechanical contraption devoid of natural emotions of joy, ethusiasm but with a uni-dimensional understanding of freewill we will be in an even worse situation.

We need to understand that restrain in our thoughts, emotions and actions is as much an exercise of freewill as is undertaking actions due to desire of our mind and senses. Animals don’t exhibit freewill as they are guided only by their sensory urges and it would be a shame to waste our human life living like animals.

Making a conscious & wise use of our skills, potential and freedom is critical to sustain and preserve a world which would guarantee right to exercise freewill not just to all of us but even to the future generation. Else, our impulsive and animalistic behaviour guided by our urges is likely to lead us to a catastrophic scenario where both existence of our species and our planet would be at risk.

The choice is left to our freewill.!