It is easy, I have found, to get caught up in the moment. The mob is both frightening and enticing. Once caught in its grasp there is this shifting of responsibility away from the individual to the seething throbbing whole. In this surrender of free will one find’s themselves trapped without feeling trapped, Now if you are into this sort of thing then you can feel free to stop reading, This is a piece about exercising free will and its not for everyone.
Any given individual is either a part of an event, acting with in their own sense of agency or in a neutral, observer state. Rephrase, we are reacting, acting or hesitating. The professor who taught the Action Theory class I suffered through back in college, one Doctor Robins, might have referred to this as a folk analysis or a folk understanding. Well everybody has to start somewhere. We do not just live in a world of events, we also live in a world of agents. This is why an understanding, in an individual sense, is so important. This debate, in my limited experience, breaks down between Predestiny (Determinism) verses Free Will (Action Theory). Determinism is the idea that whatever choice you make today, at this second is based on all of the previous events, experiences and choices that you have made in the past. Action Theory is dependent on the idea of Agency.
Agency means that some entities are actors and that they possess a thing or an ability that allows them to act that is known as Will. There is an intellectual tendency to choose a camp but I prefer the quantum equivalent. That any given individual exists in two states simultaneously. The predestined state and the free will state coexist and that our resting state is the predestined state. In the Predestined state we are simply reacting to the events taking place around us. There is no exercise of free will. Think of it like breathing. You do it with out thought, it requires no exercise of will, it simply is. A person simply breaths because their body demands it.
On the other hand there is Agency. We are all born with this ability, we are all made to be Free Agents and we all have Free Will. The choice, though, is like a muscle, it has to be exercised. There is where the problem lies. How can any individual tell the difference between a reaction and a choice, choice in this case requiring the exercise of Free Will?
This is where hesitation becomes important, the previously mentioned third state. If one carefully observes others they have the opportunity to notice instant reactions when they occur, like the knee jerk response. I swear to you I have seen people jerk their knee when they hear something or see something that they instinctively react to negatively. Hesitation takes a great exercise of will. It also involves some risk. When The Christ stated turn the other cheek, he is talking about denying the reaction and concentrating on the action. The act of Hesitating has to become trained, instinctive, it is through the act of Hesitating that any individual might be able to begin to detect the difference between reacting and acting. Hesitating is an exhaustive process as it denies the instinctive response. It also requires that part of the individuals attention constantly be cast inward in a semi reflective state. Any one following this path needs a quiet space where they can just be. This will give them the opportunity to rest and recuperate. The path of Hesitation takes discipline and patience. In time the difference between the two states, reacting and acting, will become easily discernible. This will give the individual the opportunity to act when they think or feel they must and save their energy for pursuits closer to the heart.
The test is a simple one. People, especially educated people, are experts at pushing other peoples buttons. That is saying or doing something that will provoke a reaction. So the next time some one hits you, out of the blue and for no apparent reason, or says a thing that cuts deep, that causes your body to scream and demand a response, hesitate. While hesitating watch the reaction of the provocateur.
That is where the real education begins.