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October 20, 2006 - Predestination vs. Free Will
THE POWER OF THE HUMAN WILL
"He that waits upon fortune, is never sure of a dinner."
PREDESTINATION VERSUS FREE WILL
In the beginning of our class we spoke much about goals and dreams for the future; implicit in this conversation is the belief that we have the power to forge our own paths and create the lives and characters we want for ourselves. Benjamin Franklin, the poor-boy-done-good and the prototypical "self-made" man, would approve. It is perhaps a very "American" point of view.
George Whitfield, on the other hand, might feel that there was too much pride and self-indulgence in this point of view and not enough humility in the face of God's plan for each of us. An orthodox believer might very well preach more submission to God and His grace and less concern with the things of this world. In a different vein, the Greeks used to exclaim, "The gods laugh at those who make plans!" In ancient Greece only a hubristic fool thought he had full control over his fate, and in such a case punishment from the gods was not far off. Islam literally defined means "submission to the will of Allah."
Much in contrast to Franklin and his energy and industry in the things of this world, George Whitfield claimed the following: “And there is still the more occasion for such an alarm, because worldly-mindedness so easily and craftily besets the hearts of men.” One sees those men who think in their heart of hearts that they know better than their Maker! Whitfield also explains, “Various are the pleas and arguments which men of corrupt minds frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy commands of God.” As the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale would have understood, what is started in error and pride can end only in sin and death; what is an "error" or "sin," hence, take on great importance. The role of God becomes more exalted, and the actions of men come clearly within the context of Godliness and "right" action.
One can imagine Franklin would remain unmoved. He once tersely said, "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches." Elsewhere Franklin commented, "I think vital religion has always suffered when orthodoxy is more regarded than virtue. The scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did." He was much more of a man of the world than Whitfield, and he put more emphasis on the improvement of this world - and even on its perfectability! Another "Deist," Thomas Jefferson, claimed similarly, "For it is in our lives, and not from our words, that our religion must be judged."
In a similar vein, William Shakespare in his play "Julius Caesar" once asserted -
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”
Yet his fortune seemed to be predestined. You might also remember Romeo and Juliet were also "star-crossed lovers" doomed to tragic deaths. Shakespeare seemed to deny to them the power to alter their fates.
Is this true? How much of our lives are dictated by fate? How much of our lives are determined by predestined circumstances vs. our own determination to create and change our futures as we see fit? Are our lives planned out for us even before we are born? Or do we have some control in how they turn out? How much? Do things really happen “for a reason” – a reason that is ultimately part of this giant plan seemingly so much larger than any of us? Or, rather, do things happen as a result of our own actions, of the choices we make and the decisions we follow through with? What role might religion (or lack thereof) play in a person’s view on this subject? Personal experiences or background? How might one’s opinion influence the way they live their life?
Think carefully about your own views and be sure to analyze the complexities of the foundations behind the concept of predestination. Wade into this discussion and discuss what most interests and/or concerns you.
“The doctrines of our election, and free justification in Christ Jesus are daily more and more pressed upon my heart. They fill my soul with a holy fire and afford me great confidence in God my Saviour.”
To me it seems wrong to believe so whole heartedly in the idea of an absolute destiny beyond human control. Perhaps this is because I feel so strongly about a person's ability to change his or her circumstances and create "destiny"; as opposed to simply allowing it to happen. To me,it dosen't make sense in this day and age (especially in America)to believe that in spite of our best efforts we as humans will be forever doomed to struggle on in a vain attempt at controling our own lives.
In a way it seems to me that people tend to use the thought of predestination to pacify themselvs about the unplesant occurances of life, in an attempt to avoid seeing them as they are. To me it seems the idea of a "presedtined" event becomes an excuse: "it wasn't meant to be", or, "things will work out".
Even on 9/11, a time of great national tragedy, most people looked to the heavens for a reason; or perhaps they just sought the "greater good" that would come of it later, if that higher power willed it so. But to me this seems foolish.
I believe that people have the power to control their own lives, their own "fate". People have the power even, to change this world; if they choose to see beyond the "will of the higher power" and act.
Have you ever wondered whether your life was laid out for you at birth, whether it was irremediable, that there is nothing you can do to change your life? I haven’t. To me, the idea of predestination has always seemed, to put it simply, wrong. Human beings have the free will to do what they please, when they please, and for any reasons that they choose. Although there are certainly harmful and helpful decisions in life, one has the free will to make those decisions, and therefore decide his or her path in life for his or her self.
Actually, I just lied: I do feel there is predestination, but to a small extent, and not run by God/Allah/Buddha/whomever. One’s heredity, living conditions, environment, social class, gender, race, etc. can play a role in one’s future. For example, as a child, my dad had blonde, curly hair, which turned prematurely grey and straight. As I have the same blonde, curly hair as my father, I will most likely have grey, straight hair prematurely in life. I have been spoiled by growing up in Southern California, and have therefore grown accustomed to sunshine and warmth; it is most likely, therefore, that I will not live in a place where it is predominately cold. Although factors such as these greatly increase the chances of something happening or not, one still has the free will to change their future. When I am older, I may chose to dye my hair blonde and get a perm; I also may decide to live in Canada. As a human being, this is my right.
One may ask, however, “If we all have free will, why do people become murderers, rapists, and politicians? Doesn’t everyone know that these paths in life end in nothing but rejection, alienation, even death?” My answer: society corrupts, and one has the free will to surrender to it as well as rise above it. Perhaps these individuals feel strongly for violence, lies, and corruption, just as we feel strongly for happiness, love, and good grades. Of course, I am not condoning being a murderer, rapist, or politician. But one may derive happiness out of murder, pleasure out of rape, a feeling of power out of lying to one’s country and starting useless wars. That is their choice. On the other hand, maybe murderers, rapists, and politicians are doing a great service to our lives: perhaps they realize that one cannot appreciate happiness without experiencing sorrow, and they just love humanity so deeply that they will sacrifice their own lives for the development of others’.
While skimming through the previous blogs, I happened upon one of my classmate’s analogy of life to a cruise ship, that even though we may be able to choose what to do on the cruise ship, we are still going the same predetermined place. I very much like this analogy. However, (no offense to this classmate or her beliefs), can’t one choose which cruise ship he or she will travel on in the first place? And, as cruises usually consist of many stops, cannot one get off of the ship at one stop and climb aboard another ship? Or perhaps even stay on land for a while?
I do not believe that things are “meant to happen,” or that our life is already laid out for us. I believe in choices. I believe in freedom. I believe in poverty, Communism, and federal penitentiaries, just as I believe in wealth, democracy, and universities. I believe that we may never know who wins between free will and fate. But I believe what I believe, and I am OK with that.
My views of predestination and free will are entirely based on what I have read in the Bible. For me there is no better source of information on issues such as these than God’s Word.
When I think of predestination, I think of the shining figure of God (not quite what is described in Revelations, but more of a paternal figure) sitting in heaven looking down at the world and planning every single minute detail of every single person’s life, including my own. When I think of free will, I imagine God watching over the world with that worried expression on His face that parents sometimes get when they know that their child is making a bad decision. So which picture is correct? Or is there some other idea that I am completely missing? Or is there no right answer?
I find it ironic to be posed this particular question for a blog posting. I have actually been thinking about this question for the last couple of months, and most especially over the last few weeks. Even more ironic is that I just met with my pastor last week and discussed predestination in the context of Puritan beliefs and the specific places it is mentioned in the Bible and how predestination works with free will.
You see, the question of predestination vs. free will is not just a one-time make-up-your-mind kind of thing for me. Because I am a Christian and I read my Bible regularly, I come across the ideas of predestination and free will often. For example, I was reading in Isaiah a few weeks ago and I came across this passage: “…I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you…Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish,” (Isaiah 46:3, 4, 10). Yet in Romans 1:24-32 it talks about how God allowed people to do “whatever shameful things their hearts desired.” So there is predestination, and there is free will. How can that be? I don’t know, but I do know that there are some things that I can’t understand and only God truly comprehends; the harmony between predestination and free will is one of those things.
Another layer of this complicated question is Franklin’s vs. Whitfield’s view of God’s judgment. Franklin claims that “the scriptures assure me that at the last day we shall not be examined on what we thought but what we did.” Whitfield, on the other hand, says, “various are the pleas and arguments which men or corrupt minds frequently urge against yielding obedience to the just and holy commands of God.” From the one, encouragement to do good acts, from the other, encouragement to follow the will of God. So where does the Bible stand on this? In James 3 it says, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say your have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-by and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’– but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’ But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds…’” (James 3:14-18). This passage is by no means saying that we can earn our way into heaven – the Bible is very clear that faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation (see John 3:16) – instead, it explains that good deeds, such as those Franklin would encourage, are a natural product of true faith. Thus, parts of Franklin’s theology and parts of Whitfield’s are true; good deeds are very good things, but faith (A.K.A. belief) is the only way to gain salvation. As for Franklin’s view on God’s judgment, it clearly says in 1 Peter 1:17: “And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorite. He will judge or reward you according to what you do…” Good works, however, is not a substitute for believing in God; again, they are a natural product of belief.
So my view of the ‘predestination vs. free will’ question? There is both predestination and free will; only God is able to understand the harmony between the two.
Note: All Bible verses are taken from The New Living Translation.
A Short Dialogue:
The date is August 6, 1990. It is 10:37 p.m. "Trixie" is born.
He/She who shall not be named: I have just finished outlining the path onto which your daughter will follow throughout the course of her life.
My mother: Tell me oh wise one, what shall she accomplish in life?
He/She who shall not be named: Your daughter, who will be a stubborn quirky character, is going to be an decent student, an athlete, will have sister who she completely adores, and will try to do all she can to become a writer for the Ventura County Star.
My mother: A writer for the Ventura Country Star Newspaper? Why not a doctor? How about a businesswoman?
He/She who shall not be named: A doctor? Nah, if she were to be a doctor, she would not be able to handle the pressure. She will not to be able to overcome the fact that someone else’s life depends on her work. She will think that she might want to be a businesswoman, but she can’t control what she wants. She doesn’t know what is best for her.
My mother: Will anything unfortunate happen throughout the course of her life?
He/She who shall not be named: Hmmm… Let’s see… yes, it is in everyone’s nature to have unfortunate events occur throughout their lifetime. She will need about five to six toe surgeries, due to a pesky ingrown toenail and-
My mother: What?
He/She: I did mention that she would be a runner for Buena cross country, right?
My mother: No, but one thing is for sure…. She won’t believe in God.
Are our lives already planned out for us? Are we living each day clueless to the fact that our fate has been determined? Are our lives determined by predestined circumstances? No. Our lives are based on what choices we make, and through these choices, are lives can be planned out in our point of view. There is no one but ourselves who can decide what we want to do with our lives and how we should live our lives. People can guide us and even intrude with their opinions on what they think is best, but in the end it all comes down to the individual.
It was not decided at my birth that I would be on this day, October 28, 2006, writing a blog about predestination while eating mint chocolate chip ice cream, with a feeling of stiffness and soreness in my legs, and then afterwards having ASB work to finish. It was not decided by some higher being or anyone else for that matter, that I would be an AP student and have the urge to strive for a career in journalism. It was not decided by this higher being that I would be a captain for Buena cross country. How was anyone supposed to guess that I was to get so many surgeries on two toes? Not I. If you were no ask me five years ago my thoughts for what was to come on this day, it would not have been at all similar to my life now. An AP student? Ha! A cross country runner? I didn’t even have the slightest idea of what a cross country was five years ago, let alone plan to be involved in it. I would have thought that at this age I would still be playing soccer and softball. Also, little did I know I would have a sister. I was only an only child till about 13 years old. Even then, I would have thought that this would have been crazy.
The point is that we determine our fate. We determine the success in our lives. We control our lives. A smoker will die from smoking. An obese teenager will die of heart disease at approximately age 50 (or something close to that age). In order to get through life, we will have to make choices. It is through logical reasoning that we make our choices.
I would hate to live my life dependent upon someone else’s choices, because they think they know what is best for me. I will live my life the way that I think is right regardless of what others think. So I may not make all the right choices in life, but keep in mind no one is perfect. From the bad choices I do make, I can learn from them so I won’t repeat them in the future. My life will be lived thorough me and not through some controversial book.
I wonder how much Mr. Whitfield would hate me right now…
Probably a lot…
Final words: Live Life To The Fullest! Live Your Life Because No One Else Will Live It For You!!!
Whenever this topic is brought up, I noticed a lot of people referring to God as this, Far-Off, Cosmic-Power that makes our “predestined” life horrible and purposely does actions just because, “I’m God, so nyah” (referring to the common sound made in preschools everywhere when one child finishes off their ‘dis’ of “well, you smell like peepee and I’m not going to invite you to my birfday party” (Please forgive my potty language and horrendous preschool spelling.) with this noise and the revelation of their tongue). This made me so frustrated! I don’t see how you can say that, “If predestination is real, then everything that happens is because of God”. It seems today that everyone either will blame Bush or God for all his or her personal problems. Nobody takes into account that there is someone out there to screw God over. That is Satan. Nobody seems to put this “enemy/villan/I-hate-everything-involved-with-God-and-planned-out-by-God devil into account for the horrendous crimes occurring on this globe. The Holocaust, the attack on the World Trade Center, the genocide in Sudan were all an act of Satan. If God were the source of all our worldly problems, then I would call all Christians false for preaching about an all-loving God, who wants the best for me. God is not the one who causes the problems! There may be times of testing and temptation, but those are not God-made. Satan creates them for a purpose to mislead or test you in your faith or foundation. The reason why things will go wrong is to totally throw God’s plan off balance. Now some things are also made in order to mature and to be an influence on someone else. These may be in the hands of God, but they were not made in the intention to “ruin everything”.
Let me put it simple so that everyone can understand this common Christian fate/destiny misunderstanding. God (the creator upstairs) has created and prepared a plan for everyone. When I say everyone, what I mean is everyone who there ever was, ever is, and whoever there will be. Are you all still with me? What these “God divine” plans are intended for are to prosper us, to provide a greater future, and are meant to lead us away from harm (I got that all from Jeremiah 29:11). Now as humans, we have two choices: to either go with God’s plan or to make our own. If we were programmed to always follow God’s plan for us, there would be no relationship with God. All we would be are some type of freak species that knows nothing more than to obey God’s Way because it would be the Only Way. What a bore!
Yet, because of the natural need to include ourselves, most people will usually choose the “Do-it yourself plan”. Some of them will have no problem with their choice. They will make a living, use most of their time wisely, and live an OK life. Yet is it the best life they could have lived? Some of the people will mistakenly use this “power” of free choice to choose to do what ever they want at the moment. They will focus their plan on lifting themselves up. The freedom is very addicting. But under the colors and excitement of freedom is the sly presence of insecurity. With no foundation or defenses in the wide-open hallway of life, we are more susceptible to attacks or to lose our initial heading.
Are our lives predestined? Yep, they were planned out personally for you, in the interest of you, and to glorify Him.
Do we have a choice? Yes we do. I picture it this way: God is the dad; we are the kid. Dad comes home with a cool model racecar set. We open it up and see all these little pieces inside a gigantic cardboard box. Dad pulls out the instructions to get started on the super cool racecar. But we refuse, saying, “Dad, this is my race car set. Yeah you bought it for me, and I know you spent much time going over the directions. But, I feel like I can do it on my own with out any of your help or your directions. I can do it on my own.” Our model car can be built in three ways. The first way is to continue to do it all on our own, without dad or his instructions. Many can guess that our racecar will eventually be finished, but looking nothing like what it is supposed to look like. The second way is to eventually look to dad for some help here and there in the construction, yet we only let him talk for a bit and then we continue our own construction. Sure our racecar will take more shape and look a bit nicer, but it still will lack the full look. The last and third way is to let Dad show us his directions and to work on the racecar with him, and using him for help. This racecar model will look like the real thing on the box. Our dad never intended for us to create our racecar on our own. He brought it home in order to do it with you.
I take up a serious Christian side to this issue. I speak of my beliefs on this issue, for I believe there is a divine plan for all of us. Yet I believe that by free will, we make the decision to rely on God’s divine plan or to form it ourselves. I am no scholar. I am no judge. But I sure know that the God that I believe in has no intention to ruin or forsake me. I know as long as I believe in His plan, my life is in good hands. And that is a great stress reliever!
There is no fate, there is no predestined future, nothing written in the stars, stones, crystal balls or the bottom of you teacup. The future is malleable, and I mean very malleable; to the extent that the number of flaps that a butterfly takes in a flight could change course of history (chaos theory style). I am a strong believer in humanity’s free will and the ability to act in any way one wants. In my personal opinion, fate is just a way for people to further detach themselves from life, and the actions they take during it. Fate is an excuse for laziness and irresponsibility.
It is completely possible for anyone to make their way in the American world if they push forward with true determination. Look at Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf yet learned to speak and write books. It was consistent determination and truly hard work that allowed her to do so, not the will of a greater being or determination of fate. If someone who was as
I do admit, that some people have a bit less room to move based on circumstances that are beyond their control such as being born with a physical or mental defect, being born into poverty, or being born in a country that limits your growth in one way or another. However, after that point all the choices you make are yours alone, and you can make yourself whatever you want out of those choices.
Finally, simply leaving your life to fate leads to disaster. The idea that there is nothing you can do to make things better in your life makes living that life pointless. The whole idea that society is based upon is the improvement of life as a whole. The entire idea of fate makes that pointless. If there was fate then the feeling of fear would be gone, the feeling of surprise would be pointless, the idea of work would be useless, the entire meaning of life would be gone. So, even if there is some type of fate (in the modified words of Adam Savage): I reject that reality and substitute my own. Fate doesn’t exist, and if it does I don't want to know.
Destiny, is it something that, according to the Puritans, was predestined and made so unique for each person that we are tricked into believing that our fate is controlled by us or is it something that we as mortals have control over?
Is the belief that our lives are predestined from the time we are born and everything that has happened in between has been a result of a higher being playing us all like pawns? Or is everything that happens to us a result of our own choosing?
I for one will choose that fact that everyone is, in fact, living a predestined life. That everyone is part of one big realistic game of Sims (a game that lets the player control their character’s life). If there is a higher being, maybe Benjamin Franklin was predestined to be the one that would revolutionize the archaic beliefs of the colonial days. Or maybe the founder of the computer juggernaut: Microsoft; Bill Gates was predestined before he even touched a simple technological device. Bill Gates was probably predestined by the higher being to become the richest man in the world by giving mankind the push it needed to become as advanced as it is today.
Although some more than others were blessed to become destined to help mankind and make a large splash in the pond of history, there are many others who maybe are destined to just take up a space in the over-population scale and barely make even a ripple. There are many that we see on the streets, who had the unfortunate destiny of having the only purpose of holding a sign in need of assistance of others. Although this may seem inconsiderate and selfish, it’s reality.
As for the common people, an example of fate at work was during the much popular 9/11. For those who survived that day, there were many events of fate that saved their life. There was a man who was supposed to board a plane, one of the planes that would later be hijacked, but instead, he was late and missed his flight and survived dieing. Or another incident where several employees that worked in the former-World Trade Center buildings and would have died but decided to take the day off and survived to live and see 9/12. Besides those who survived, there were also cases where people who were supposed to survive were destined to have their time come. There was an incident where a lady had gone to New York for a business conference but found out that the meeting was cancelled, so she decided to go home early. But, as fate would have it, she would be boarding a plane that would crash into the World Trade Center. Many may just look at these incidents and just say that it was a coincidence but is it really? Maybe that higher being upstairs just felt like the population on the planet was taking too long to decrease so he decided to mark a day that happened to be the day France got their independence from Germany after World War II (11/9 if you take the inverse of 9/11) and thought it might be fun to lead it up to a huge war that would be talked about for years.
Throughout history, there have been significant figures who were the incarnation of the Greek giant, Prometheus, and were meant to come down and give mankind the “fire” to become more advanced and change the lifestyles of all with a single breakthrough. While others were so insignificant that they barely cause any positive effect to mankind but to jack-up all of our tax dollars to pay for the healthcare and welfare that they did not work for and earn. Although I am aetheist, I do believe that there is somesort of higher being; maybe not G-d but maybe something or someone else.
Fate: in the time of Rome Even the gods could not escape their fate so what makes humans any different? Of course the unforseen force could just as likely be an alien as god or fate. What does it matter if there is a fate? One can never know and the worst that could happen would already have happened determined before time. Does the answer to this question really matter? If the answer there is no fate then our attempts to do something will not be in vain, and if there happens to be a fate; it doesn’t matter what you do you will still do it so those attempts are destined to fail or succeed. The real question is not wether fate exists or whether what we do in this life is predetermined but How does that affect us?
If you were told that no matter what you did it was already determined that you would be a millionaire would it matter what you did in response? It would be the right thing anyway. What I am trying to say is that to me personally I have no feeling on the subject because it doesn't affect how I would live. I will still try and succeed at what I want to do either way. The real implications of this fate, our prefabricated destiny, doesn't matter because, again, no matter what you do it is what you were supposed to do.
If fate wasn't real, I would still have the same attitude: do what I can to get by and achieve my goals I would look the same, dress the same, and probably end up in the same situation. Really it doesn't matter whether the world is run by a secret entity pulling all the strings like a puppet master or through human actions and decisions; however, what matters is how you act without that answer.
Fate: Blaming God for the bad choices you make.
Free Will: Taking credit for the good choices that you make.
Alright so this may be a bit of an exaggeration, and I kind of put that in here as an attention grabber, but it is still correct in many ways. It seems to be that fate is often used to justify a person’s lack of determination or their unwillingness to try to do something in the world.
I have a kind of random/silly/slightly-off-topic story to help illustrate this point. Last year, one of the many freshmen in my drama class purposely dropped one of his homework assignments for health class. The date was June 5; the next day was the infamous 6/6/06. Purportedly, our protagonist entered Mrs. Osborne’s class with excuse in head, and was prepared for the inevitable tumult. When Mrs. Osborne asked him why he had not done the homework, he blurted out that he figured the world was going to end that day, and so it seemed kind of pointless.
Moving to more serious matters, there are two sides to this issue: the role of God in fate and the impact of our born status in society.
OK. First topic: God. I have actually thought about this one a bit in the past, and we talked about it a bit last year during the Holocaust unit. I could go on and on about this, so I will try to keep it relatively short. My basic hypothesis is that we have 100% free will, and that events such as natural disasters, Holocausts, etc. are the results of science and humans. Even though he has given me absolutely no explicit permission to say this, I think that my friend summed it up fairly well when he said, “Seriously, I think God gives us a lot more free rein than we give Him credit for.” The idea that God controls every aspect of our lives seems ludicrous, because I sincerely believe that God absolutely does not care which pant leg I put my leg in through first. In a related thread of thought, I always found it funny that people would say that that God both knows everything that you will do in the future and that humans have free will. Someone finally gave me a satisfactory explanation by saying that God knows every possible scenarios of the infinite amount of futures in the universe, and that kind of made sense, so I accepted it. I have also heard people say that God works through humans. Is this (theological) evidence against free will? I figure that if He does, it would be more in the form of a prompting in the back of one’s mind; a mere suggestion but not a command. And on the topic of God having a plan for each one of us, I think that His “plan” is for us to do our best to improve the world, and that He has no specific expectation for each person, except that we all try. Think of Mr. Geib’s grading scale.
The other role of fate in people’s lives is their born social status. It is true (and awfully cliché) that, to a reasonable extent, any person can be anything they want to if they try hard enough (think inspirational movie plot), but most of the time people are content to stay where they are. There is nothing to say that a person born poor will end up growing rich someday, but much of the time they won’t. Much of our opinions, likes, dislikes, and future careers and life paths have most likely already been largely shaped by our childhood environments. There will of course be exceptions, and anyone can break the mold; it just takes effort, which is something many people don’t want to think about because they have been convinced through their whole life about the future that they want. Remember, Einstein was thought to be mentally retarded when he was young.
Before I close, I want to comment on my classmate’s ship analogy because it seems popular. I tend to agree with electrogoth’s version better except for one detail: a person can’t “choose which cruise ship he or she will travel on in the first place.” I do agree that one can jump from ship to ship, and I would like to add that some, because of their cruise line, might have more opportunities here than others, but we are born on our first cruise ship, and it often takes many years before we have the opportunity, nay, the desire to leave our beloved ship for the next one.