On Free Will
Updated: May 11
When it comes to the topic of free will, we should distinguish between two things: whatever leads a person to decide, and the ability of that person to decide independently of anything that has the power to choose for them, beyond their control, as independent-capable beings.
The harsh truth about free will is that we do not have as much freedom as we think we do. Our freedom depends on our ability to act on our own, without submitting to weaknesses and temptations that "do" the decision-making for us. Since there are so many temptations out there, it's safe to assume that many of us are just too weak to have free will 100% of the time. Whenever we are faced with an internal struggle that makes us want to do things we don't want to do, it indicates the true weakness of our free will.
Of course, there are many influencing external factors that affect our ability to make a free-will decision. However, let us not forget that unlike inner "demons" such as temptation, external influencers don't make the decision for us. They simply exist and interact with us. For example, if we are told in school that joining the military is a good idea, and we decide on our own to do so, the teachers did not make that decision for us. They simply expressed themselves.
Therefore, influence is not the same as an active struggle that weakens our own willpower when we are faced with a decision-making opportunity. We should consider the following analogy: the influence is the crowd in the background of a wrestling match, that either cheers or shames you, and the struggle is your opponent that stands in your way for victory. The crowd does not decide for you whether you will win or not, but the strength of your opponent tries to make you lose by making you submit.
A possible solution to the empowerment of free will is to become mentally stronger, to the point where no temptation would be likely to make you choose a choice you don't want to make, but you are tempted to nonetheless.
When such conflict occurs, suffering is generated; a suffering that symbolizes the struggle for free will, when the will goes against the tyranny of the undesired urges. This necessary suffering ends when your willpower eventually becomes so strong that its opponents are no match for it and can no longer affect it.
If you wish to strengthen your free will, put it to the test like in any other physical exercise. For example, put cookies on your table at the beginning of the month and try not to eat them all by the end of the month. Many other examples are possible to be endured to become a stronger, freer human being. All you need to do is to let the suffering strengthen you, and to accept it as far as you can.