Rudy Caseres is an inspiring mental health advocate that I am grateful to know through social media. He champions ideas in his work aimed at reducing the suffering of others. He posted something on his Facebook page yesterday about being compelled to delete a previous post because of abusive, bullying comments made by someone.
I was compelled to write the following to Rudy as a result.
“I do not believe in free will. Schopenhauer’s words: ‘Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,’ accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile me with the actions of others, even if they are rather painful to me. This awareness of the lack of free will keeps me from taking myself and my fellow men too seriously as acting and deciding individuals, and from losing my temper.”
A huge lightbulb went off for me in October of 2015 thanks to a talk that Sam Harris (author and neuroscientist) gave at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas back in 2012 about free will. I don’t believe that you, me, anyone that is writing abusive things on your FB page, or any other human being has conscious control over the next thought that pops into their head. Like Einstein (thanks primarily to Sam Harris) I don’t believe that anyone has control of their will.
I champion your right to be the cause of the effect(s) that you wish to see in the world (like blocking abusive people from your FB page) while also believing that no one is the conscious author of their thoughts. As a result, I think it’s unreasonable to see people as deeply/completely/morally responsible for what they say and do. I believe this while simultaneously thinking that, for practical purposes, every human being must be held legally responsible for their actions 100% of the time.
People don’t create themselves as they are. Rather, people are the product of their biology and every experience that they have ever had. No one has a scintilla of control over who their parents are, over the genes they inherited. You and I have as much control over the microstructure of our brains as we do our height.
Hopefully banning people trolling you will be the cause of a new effect for that person, i.e., your action could cause different thoughts to pop into that person’s head, leading them to take different actions. My point, thanks to the genius of Einstein, Sam Harris, Bruce Hood, the Buddha, etc. is that I think it’s unreasonable to blame someone for being how they are being.
Reading Sam’s book Free Will and watching the talk I already mentioned back in 2015 transformed my beliefs about the human condition. I am unequivocally more compassionate as a result. When you genuinely don’t believe in free will, forgiveness becomes almost a nonsensical idea. With no reason to “blame” anyone for anything they do, there is no reason to forgive them. As you noted at the end of your post, there is always room to be loving and helpful to everyone while trying to cause the world to be the way you are compelled to want it to be.
I think Albert Einstein, one of the most insightful humans to ever live, gave humanity a key to unlock inner peace (and world peace too!) with his vision of the human condition. I share these thoughts with you in the hope that you will have more peace when someone does something that compels you to become upset.
I haven’t been following you for long Rudy, but you are an inspiration. I appreciate you, and I’m grateful that I came to know that you exist. You too have helped to cause me to be how I am.
I encourage you to check out Sam’s talk when you have a chance.