Is free will really an illusion?

A friend of mine suggested that I should watch the TV show Supernatural. For years I didn’t, because I don’t like the horror genre. Eventually I started watching it anyway. In season 5 episode 13 there was a quote: “free will is an illusion”. Technically that whole season points in the direction that there is really no such thing as free will, because eventually our “self-made choices” lead us to the path of fate/destiny.

Free will vs God’s will

In life, we are taught to think before we act, because we are all given free will, but if not used wisely, we will cause ourselves and/or others pain with our actions.

bible verse Free will vs God’s willAt the same time, if you’re a Christian, you may come across bible verses such as:

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble – Proverbs 16:4

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope – Jeremiah 29:11

In my opinion these versus hint towards free will being an illusion, because if even the wicked are made by the Lord, does that mean they can’t become good? We’re taught that people choose to do bad things right? But if there’s a purpose for people who are created “wicked”, is it really their choice to be bad?

The good that can come from “our” bad decisions

He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he – Proverbs 16:20

In other words, God wants us to be happy and He will make us happy if we trust in him. This verse also brings up another thought: “everything happens for a reason”.

Let’s say out of your own free will you decide to get drunk. Afterwards you get into your car and get into an accident. Obviously, getting hurt is your own fault, because we all know we shouldn’t drink and drive. domino effectNow your leg is broken and you have a dislocated shoulder so you have to miss work. Your boss says it’s a difficult time at work and he needs all hands on deck so if you can’t make it, you get fired. Now you’re mentally kicking yourself in the head because none of this domino effect would have happened if you just hadn’t gotten drunk that night. Yet, through all the bad, God wants us to be happy. So when you’re healed you start looking for a new job and you find one. Within a few years, you’re a manager at that company. This would never have happened if you hadn’t gotten fired from your previous job. So maybe getting drunk that night was all a part of God’s plan for you and not at all “free will”.

Conclusion: free will – illusion or reality?

free will - illusion or reality
I don’t have all the answers for I am only human. But in life we often see that our choices – be it good or bad – lead us to a final destination. And if we believe that God really wants what’s best for us, this final destination is often a good, happy one. In my opinion, fate and destiny weigh heavier in the grand scheme than free will. So partially, free will is an illusion.

 

People lie…

If you were raised to be a good person, your parents/caretakers probably taught you never to lie. Even when you grow up, people are always shocked, disappointed or angry when they find out you lie. So why do we do it?

How lying starts

As a kid you try to be obedient and in this case not to lie. Then life happens… you bump into your mom’s favorite vase, for example. You know that she’ll be furious when she finds out and you’ll get punished for it. So to save yourself, you blame it on your little brother or sister who can’t defend himself/herself yet, so he/she gets punished for it.

How lying starts

Just don’t get caught

Even though we were taught not to lie, eventually life teaches us that lying is ok – as long as you don’t get caught. Getting caught has consequences, we all know that. So if we’re trying to still be good people, we do lie, but we try our hardest not to get caught.

Why lieWhy lie?

If we all know lying is bad, why do we do it? In my opinion, there are a few main reasons why people lie:

  • They’re afraid of the (negative) consequences their actions will have for themselves
  • They don’t want their actions to hurt the people they love
  • They feel like they’re pushed in that direction
  • They’re chronical liars.

The whys explained

  • Chronical liars

In most cases, (good) people are not chronical liars. You won’t easily meet people who lie for this reason, because that would mean that they’re psychopaths.

The three first reasons for lying are a lot more common.

  • Lying because you are afraid of the consequences of your actions

Being afraid of the consequences of your actions is a selfish reason for lying. Because if you know what you’re doing will have bad consequences, you just shouldn’t do whatever it is you are doing.

  • Lying to not hurt the people you love

Not wanting to hurt the people you love is less selfish, but still bad. For example being fired from your job and not telling your wife about it because you don’t want her to worry. This form of lying is bad because the truth always comes out eventually. The person you were trying to protect by lying, then gets even more hurt.

  • Lying because you feel pushed into doing so

Lying because you feel pushed into doing so

This form of lying has many similarities with lying because you are afraid of the consequences. Yet there is a difference. People who lie because they feel like they’re pushed into it are often people in abusive relationships or situations. Instead of lying because they know they’ve done something wrong, these people lie because they know that even though there is nothing wrong with what they’ve done, they might get punished (emotionally or physically) for it anyway. For example a woman in an abusive relationship is living together with her man. He goes on a business trip and she wants to have a girls’ night out. She makes the plans and goes out. Her man calls her, can’t reach her and jumps to conclusions like “you’re cheating on me”. The woman knows her man will get angry about the girls’ night out as well, so she lies and says her phone was off.

My opinion about the reasons why people lie

In my opinion, although “lying because you feel like you are pushed into doing so” is the most valid reason for lying, people Just let go don't liein abusive relationships or situations just need to let go. Don’t stay in a relationship that’s bad for you, cut off friends who have a negative impact on you and cut communications with abusive family members. If work is bad, find another job, etc.

Life is too short to have to lie to be happy. Find your own happiness, love yourself and have people around you who love you for who you are so you don’t ever feel the need to lie.

The true meaning of “Pride and Prejudice” (and Zombies)

I put off watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a while now because of the zombies in it, but I finally watched it. I think I finally understand the meaning of the title…

Pride

Years ago I had to watch one of the (original) versions movie for a school project. I was a lot younger than I am now so I just watched it and let it go. I don’t remember much of the original plot. Although something in this zombie-version of the movie got my attention. Mr. Darcy is an arrogant jerk for most of the movie so when he proposed to Elizabeth Bennet I thought, “you go girl for saying no to him!” The way he proposed was also not romantic at all. I mean you can’t propose to a woman by insulting her first. That’s just unheard of!

The look of prideAt the end of the movie miss Bennet she saves Mr. Darcy’s life and he proposes to her again. This time you see it in her eyes: she wants to say yes but her pride is preventing her from doing so. This part of the movie made me finally understand (part of) the title of the movie. Pride first keeps Mr. Darcy from being nice to Elizabeth Bennet even though he feels that his heart beats for her and her alone. At the same time pride keeps miss Bennet from immediately jumping up and down and screaming yes from the top of her lungs, like her sister, Jane Bennet, had just done when Mr. Bingley proposed.

Prejudice

Honestly, when I first watched the original movie in my teenage years and even before I just googled it, I didn’t know what the word “prejudice” meant. I’m pretty sure I googled it as well when I first watched Pride & Prejudice, but I must have forgotten it. Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, prejudice means prior judgement or belief without bias.

When I googled this meaning I understood the part of “prejudice” in the title. Prejudice also partially refers to Mr. Darcy. He thought the woman he fell in love with wasn’t worthy of him. He also thought that Jane Bennet didn’t really love Mr. Bingley and convinced him to leave her behind, thus breaking both their hearts.

And… Zombies

I’m not going to say much about this part, because the zombies didn’t make a great impression on me, Zombies at St Lazarussince I’m not a big fan of the horror/thriller genre. It was a funny twist though when Mr. Wickham brought Elizabeth Bennet to the zombie church without telling her that there were zombies there.

In my opinion, the zombies didn’t add much to the storyline and the whole zombie apocalypse thing after the end credits that hints towards a part 2, should have been skipped. There should not be a part 2 of this movie…

What Pride and Prejudice teaches us

It took a zombie version of Pride and Prejudice to teach me this, but I think this movie teaches us the following:

  • If you love someone, just tell them
  • Don’t let pride keep you from true happiness
  • Try to be unbiased in life, because people may just surprise you
  • Don’t give up: she might just accept your proposal the second time around
  • Don’t change who you are for someone else. In the words of Elizabeth: “I would never exchange my sword for a ring… the right man wouldn’t ask me to.”

Honorable mentions

I noticed some things in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that I think are worth mentioning:

  • None of the men in the head cast are called by their first name: Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Wickham, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Collins
  • Lady Catherine de Bourgh - Cersei BaratheonElizabeth Bennet is considered less feminine than Jane Bennet although their posture doesn’t differ much
  • I think that because she is constantly reminded that she’s not the prettiest, Elizabeth has confidence issues: she mentions that a woman is either highly trained or highly refined and never both
  • The actress playing Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Lena Headey) is the same actress from the TV series Game of Thrones.

My thoughts on The Joker’s story

I watched Batman: The Killing Joke recently and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m usually not a big fan of superhero movies, but I thought I’d give this one a shot. I’m glad I did. Since I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies/ series or comics I never really cared about The Joker’s story. So if there are multiple back-stories, forgive me for not knowing. I just know this one.

The Joker’s back-story

In this movie The Joker had a pregnant wife and no job. He used to work in a chemical plant and quit that to follow his passion of being a comedian. Unfortunately people apparently didn’t think he was very funny, so he couldn’t find a job. The Joker's back-storyHis supporting wife told him not to worry and that everything would be fine. But to support his family he tried to get a one-time-only job with a group of bad guys. He needed to lead them to a different company next to the chemical plant where he used to work. Before they got to “the job” the police told him that his wife had died in an accident. He didn’t want to do the job anymore after hearing that. This is understandable because he was only going to do it so his family could have a better future. The men he was going to work with told him cancelling was not an option so he did it anyway, plagued by his memories. When he got there, security spotted them and batman came along. All the bad guys, including The Joker ran. Something went wrong and The Joker fell into some kind of chemical and thus became The Joker we all know.

My thoughts

I have mixed emotions about this villain now, because I think that many people would go crazy if something this horrible happened to them. In one hit, he just lost everyone he loved: his wife and his unborn child.

The Joker normal crazyI never cared about The Joker. To me, he was always just a villain in Batman. But now I see this character as a person with a past and a reason for doing what he does.

Of course, the way The Joker handled his loss is not the way anyone should. The Joker is still a villain and needs to be locked up – and kept there. But I can understand the frustration. Wanting to do everything for someone or the people you love and then they’re ripped away from you. When you want to cancel what you wanted to do for them, you’re forced to do it anyway. And as icing on the cake, the whole plan goes south. That would be very depressing for any normal human being…

The Joker’s opinion about memories

The Joker mentions something in Batman: The Killing Joke that got me thinking. He said:

Remembering is dangerous. I find the past such a worrying, anxious place. Memory’s so treacherous. One moment you’re lost in a carnival of delights, with poignant childhood aromas, the flashing neon of puberty, all that sentimental candy-floss… the next, it takes you somewhere you don’t want to be. Somewhere dark and cold, filled with the damp ambiguous shapes of things you’d rather forget. Memories can be vile, repulsive little brutes. Like children, no? But can we live without them? Memories are what our reason is based on. If we deny them, we deny reason itself! Although, what’s wrong with that really? It’s not like we’re contractually tied down to rationality! There is no sanity clause! So when you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unavoidable, remember this: there’s always madness. You can just step outside, and close the door on all those dreadful things that happened. You can lock them away… forever.

The Joker memories madness

Even though it’s an insane thought, The Joker has a point. Memories can really haunt us. Even when we think that, for example, we’ve gotten over the death of a loved one, something can still trigger a memory. Say it’s a good memory, one where you can laugh about something stupid the person did. That can trigger another memory: “I’ll never get to see him/her do that again”. Although you may have just laughed about the funny memory, the last part (the realization) will always hurt. So sometimes madness might be an interesting way out. Obviously, I’m not saying go kill someone like The Joker did, but madness could also be going out to a karaoke bar even though you know your singing talents are horrible. It could be going out to a club and dancing with a complete stranger, although you’re shy of nature. Maybe you could even text a relative who you haven’t spoken to in years because of some fight you had. This “madness” will help you to (at least temporarily) not focus on the pain of the memories…

Do what works for you. Choose your own madness, in a positive way of course!