LIFE: Free Will, Determinist and the Morning Sun

By: Helene Cavalli, guest blogger

Do you believe in free will? Or do you have more of a determinist point of view?

The debate was revisited recently in The New York Times.

It comes down to a basic question of choice – do we make choices or are we compelled to do what we do by predetermined factors?

While the choice before me, right now, was determined by millions of choices that led me here, I have no doubt I’m freely deciding on what I’ll do next.

My decision will be influenced or determined by many factors – some over which I had no control – but ultimately a choice must be made in each moment. And you only have a split second. Did you just make the right choice?

Last weekend I found a large meat cleaver while walking in Center City, Philadelphia. I glanced at it – “ah, that looks dangerous” – and kept walking.

Living in the city inures you to a lot.

But I stopped two seconds later, turned around and walked back. I couldn’t leave it there. The thought ran through my head that someone behind me might pick it up and plunge it into my skull. So I reach down, grabbed it by the handle and started walking, expecting to quickly find a trashcan.

I had just become a threatening woman on the street with a meat cleaver in her hand.

I couldn’t find a trashcan and the corner seemed a mile away. I started to panic. It’s very hard to be inconspicuous when carrying an unconcealed knife, eyes darting, looking frantic.

I was expecting to be tackled to the ground any second. It was Saturday afternoon and the streets were crowded. People passed by, not paying any attention to me and my knife. You know the saying,

“The devil is in the details?”

I guess it’s easy to stop paying attention. But I have to admit that I was surprised that I didn’t attract even a pointed finger.

I finally made it to a trashcan, dropped the knife in and breathed a sigh of relief that I hadn’t attracted any attention. I walked away proud that I’d risked my personal safety in order to protect the city of Philadelphia.

But two hours later I was struck with the realization that some hapless trash collector would be picking up that bag with no way of knowing he or she could be hurt. I hadn’t considered the ripple effect.

I’m sick about the knife and that I didn’t try to retrieve it from the trashcan. I wasn’t paying attention and had no idea what street I was on so there was no way to find it.

Just two months before, as I was walking through Independence Mall, left on the sidewalk was a serrated knife that must have been 10-inches long.

The mall was crowded with tourists but people just walked over the knife.

I picked it up and then realized there were armed park police everywhere and this might not look so good.

And it didn’t.

I held the knife out in front of me and called out,

“Excuse me, officer, officer? I just found this knife.”

They had guns!

Seriously, why pick it up?

And why do it again?

Plato said,

“If one has made a mistake, and fails to correct it, one has made a greater mistake.”


Helene Cavalli is a marketing professional for a management consulting firm. She studied Liberal Arts and wanted to be a sociologist. Helene loves foreign films, living in Philadelphia and taking her dog to the park. Get a copy of the Little Pink Blog delivered to your Kindle and find us on Facebook.

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  1. The point and the line in the world of opposites defines the process of free will. The classic definition of a line segment being “the shortest distance between two points” tells us that the beginning of any line segment is an object with no volume, area, width or length, that defines an exact location in space. Therefore, that which cannot be measured is the start of everything measurable. Additionally, notwithstanding that a line is straight by definition, there is no such thing as a straight line because, according to Einstein et al, space is curved. But when we look we only “see” the straight line segments and there are innumerable mathematical formulas and theorems centered on the relationship between them in how they intersect or how they remain apart from each other; all the while we are really working with the curved sections of one very large loop. So the straight line is, in the ultimate reality, an arc. Accordingly, we must conclude that we are always dealing with an unseen truth that governs our lives and exists beyond our capacity to notice. Most of us refer to this unseen truth as “G-d”.
    To wit, the line is the boundary that sets limitations, defines the end of one side of an area and separates two opposing sides. It is the contraction of infinity to the finite. It is the formation of something from nothing because a line segment and its endpoints have no substance; not even energy. Nonetheless it is a part of reality and if you cross over you are on the other side. Sometimes you can go back but don’t want to, sometimes you wish you could but can’t and sometimes you can bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball until some one close to you screams, “I wish you’d make up your mind already!” More at http://thoughts4thesoul.wordpr