Freedom and consequences.
“We are free to choose our paths, but we can’t choose the consequences that come with them.”Sean Covey, The 7 habits of highly effective teens
We are witnessing an extraordinary outburst of teenage behaviour amongst people far older who once may have been expected to be wiser.
From Brexit, to Covid vaccinations, from food hoarding to global travel, the watchword of the day is the exercising of personal freedom – coupled with a fair degree of paranoia about what ‘they’ want us to do. I cannot vouch for who they are, or what their agenda might be. It seems to vary from person to person. But what they all have in common is that the mighty ‘they’ are taking away free will.
People feel coerced, even imprisoned by situations in their daily life. The consequences of simple decisions appear to be punishments administered by a mysterious ‘they’ rather than the natural consequences of choice and decisions.
Why do we believe so passionately that everything that happens to us is done to us by some conscious agency? Why is it so difficult for us to see that mostly we are the agents of our own lives and our own decisions take us from one place to another?
On the one hand many of us are like toddlers, believing we are omnipotent and all important and that our slightest whim should be instantly indulged regardless of the cost to others (or even ourselves). On the other hand we are capable of instantly changing over to believing that we are the victims of conspiracy, oppression, or government and that if our ‘free choice’ were restored we would be able to carry on as we will without unpleasant consequences. Our attempt at growing up seems to have only progressed as far as teenager – blaming our psychological parents for giving us tummy ache when we have eaten things we were told not to eat!
“There are in nature neither rewards nor punishments — there are consequences.”Robert G Ingersoll
Into this strange psycho-drama step the exploiters and abusers. They use our teenage-style sulking, to persuade us to take more unwise decisions, to get ourselves into more of a tizz and to be unbalanced for longer. When we are reduced to children needing comfort, they then sell us fake comforters and tell us all will be well if we exchange our hard earned money for their cuddly toy or dummy. But it is no longer a cuddly toy but a shiny car, an expensive holiday, an expensive pair of shoes. We are pacified, but only for so long before that turned around, that off balance feeling starts again.
We need comforting once more.
We are being lulled into the idea of consequence free decision making. That, like mini-gods we can have temper tantrums and decide without consequences for ourselves or others.
But there are no consequence free decisions.
Our desire to comfort and be comforted and yet remain free and not responsible, makes us all the prey of anyone with a better strategy.
Unless we soon step into an adult and responsible mode of being, we will not like the consequences of our behaviour. We delude ourselves into thinking the consequences of our choices affect others, but not ourselves. There is some harsh learning going on teaching us that this is not so. It really is time to clear up our room!