the awful gift of free will

The short answer to the question of why evil exists in the world is – humans are created with free will. Created in the image and likeness of God we have minds to reason with, hearts to love with, and the freedom to choose how we act.

Respecting the free will of each person is to respect their inherent dignity as humans. We are rightly horrified at any form of coercion or force imposed by governments on their people. We do not believe that society or religion has the right to dictate how many children we may have, what faith or beliefs we adhere to, what clothes we can wear, or what we can think or say. We uphold the right to freedom with a passion.

But we also know the gift of free will can be twisted and perverted to serve ourselves with no regard for the good of others. We have the freedom to amass wealth, with no regard to the massive poverty around us. We have the freedom to gain and hoard power, while denying the rights of others. We have the freedom to abuse our bodies, believing it is no business but our own. We have the freedom to inflict pain, suffering, and even death on our sisters and brothers.

We can also deny our own free will by refusing to take responsibility for our own lives. Yes, evil happens to us that we have no control over. But there comes a time when we need to stand up and do something about it. We need to reject the victim mentality of wallowing in self-pity and pointing the finger of blame. We need to reclaim the dignity that was taken away from us, by replacing powerlessness with empowerment. We have to embrace our free will and stand up and fight against the evil and injustice that hurt us and continues to hurt others.

The gift of free will should fill us with awe, for its power can be both awesome, and awful.

4 thoughts on “the awful gift of free will

  1. “Yes, evil happens to us that we have no control over.” I have noticed that good people often try to control or avoid evil by having contracts with God. “I will do this, God, if you keep my children safe” or “I will pray everyday if you help me find work”. This bargaining and making contracts with God is a natural, human thing to do. All of us have probably bargained with God around life issues when we feel stuck but really need to let go.

    This type of contract says, “I will be preserved from reality, or evil, if I do these things”. However, there is only one signature on the contract, God did not sign it. There are no contracts, there is only reality. This contracting is the bargaining in the stages of grieving that has been widely written about in the spiritual and psychological communities.

    However, there is no contract or bargain, there is only life. It is God’s vision of life that has the upper hand, and it requires us to pray for the grace to surrender. As Isabella stated: “We can also deny our own free will by refusing to take responsibility for our own lives”.

    1. Hmmm…..I wonder if bargaining with God is more ingrained with Catholics? After all, we were raised on the theology of indulgences, novenas and penances. Just a thought! 😉

  2. As my head reels with news of a crazy Libyan dictator, and an assassination of a minority minister in Pakistan, who died because of his desire to fight for the rights of the oppressed minorities I am heartened by your post. These two extremes and the unspoken until now challenge for me of knowing that I have a choice, I can either sit back and let evil happen, assuming it is too big, and I am too small or I can, with armor far beyond my own skin, choose to stand up for what is right. Thanks for the reminder.

  3. Marilyn, I continue to be heartened by your educational and inspiring blog. Your insights give me a better grounding in the current events of Egypt, Libya and Pakistan. Free will, yes. But I can`t help but wonder if I have the courage of those brave souls who are choosing to stand up and fight against the madness. I pray that God will mightily bless their efforts, so justice and peace may rule their lands. And I pray that we will all be inspired by them to do the same in our own place and time.

    Again, I encourage all to check out Marilyn`s blog at

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