A life of courage, joy and independence.
Here’s my opinion which I am eager to amend or revise based upon the sound arguments and proofs offered by others. Free will is an illusion. The choices we make are determined by the various factors of our life experience leading up to the moment of choice. Influences such as genetics, parenting, schooling, friends, associates as well as environmental factors and chance, including when and where we were born, all have the effect of channeling our bias towards a single decision at every life juncture. If the universe were to be replayed over and over we would likely make the same choice every time given the same conditioning circumstance. Some claim that quantum randomness has the effect of introducing the opportunity for free will though I disagree. The indeterminate nature of some sub-atomic particles only means that the universe could never truly be replayed or repeated. However, in every possible scenario even remotely like our own the sentient beings who are deciding must again find themselves as mere actors in a play produced not by their own will, but instead by the innumerable forces of precedent which brought them into a position of making a choice.
That we do not enjoy free will does not mean that we are powerless. Instead of seeing myself as an impotent puppet being guided by the invisible strings of my makeup and past experience, I instead prefer to view myself as a potent agent with the power to make a positive contribution to the life circumstances of my peers as well as generations to come. By understanding the significant force the example of my own life may have I can then actively follow my inherent bias towards optimism, love and joy and become a positive influence on my friends and family and a role model to my child and students, which will impact their choices and subsequent impact on others. This shift in perspective gives me something reassuring that the loss of free will takes away. Life becomes less a chain of unwilled choices and more a striving to make what I perceive to be my “better” choices something of worthwhile consequence to others and the world to come.