I was thinking just this morning—if you must know, the exact thoughts came as I was exiting University Drive westbound onto Sparkman Drive southbound—that I have a pretty good lot in life. One could say that I’ve done pretty well for myself–got a really good job after getting a nearly-full ride to school. My folks are middle-class, so I had some advantages, but it’s not as if I were born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
But wait …
I had parents who were well-educated—Mom has a BA, and Dad has a BS and an MS—and convinced both my brother and I as young boys that college was an expectation. I had grandparents who were willing to help both of us out financially and other ways to go to school. I had the native intelligence of the Morris and Adair families.
Stepping back further, I benefitted from the generosity of the taxpayers of this state, who chose to fund out-of-state scholarships–or at least their elected representatives did. They established this University which I call my alma mater.
And where did my parents get their educations? The same source, although the previous generation didn’t have as many resources to bring to bear.
And so it goes on and on, back through the generations.
One can believe that all of this is a product of an interminable number of choices. One can believe that this is all controlled by the hand of Providence guiding things to some grand Design.
One can also believe, as I do, that it’s a product of both–we have choices, sure, but they are from a limited set of the infinite set of possible choices. We each can only make a limited number of choices in our lives, and humanity itself is limited by the number of choices which Nature gives it–for we humans cannot decide, on a whim, to float in the air.
This concept of free will and being self-made is pretty silly, isn’t it? But that doesn’t drive one—or at least me—to the other binary choice, which is that we have no will at all. We have limited will. We can’t choose to be anything that we want to be–our choices are, in fact, limited. That said, we do have some choices in this life.
If only we made the right ones all the time, and if only we’d remember that it’s not just our right choices that put us where we are.