The Journey series
Last week we saw how our senses are poor masters. This week we’ll examine how our mind harnesses our appetites. Our first task is to understand nature and nurture.
Natural traits are bestowed in creation. We can’t decide what our nature is, we can only discern it. Refusing to believe or accept our nature will not change it. Things are what they are.
Nurtured traits develop as we interact with our environment. We remember, rank, and anticipate events. We are aware that we exist and that our actions affect our environment. We are unique among species in our ability to imagine, compare, and pursue many potential futures. This is what we call free will.
Many people today consider free will, without limitation, to be their right. This is an absurd notion. We are free neither to do the impossible nor deny the inevitable. Nothing can be what it’s not. It is, in fact, only possible to have free will when there are limits. It is their inherent limits that define each option and our limits that require us to choose.
Only the creator can determine what something is. Michelangelo chipped away at a block of Carrera marble to reveal his memorial to Christ’s gift and Mary’s sorrow; but it remains 98% calcium carbonate with traces of silica and magnesia. The vision he had before starting may have undergone a few alterations to accommodate a random vein in the rock or a mis-struck chisel blow, but it is that same vision we now see written in stone.
We can push some limits mechanically, but we can’t eliminate them. We can pilot a plane but we are not actually flying; we are in a machine that is flying. One’s appearance can be altered through hormonal treatments and plastic surgery to resemble the opposite sex but they will not be the opposite sex. Despite some people’s claims to know they are trapped in the wrong body, no one can actually experience being the opposite sex. Gender dysphoric people can only compare their mental experience with what they imagine the opposite sex experiences. The most skilled physicians can’t change a person from one sex to the other. Even the brain will still have physical differences peculiar to the patient’s true sex.
There are traits over which we can affect change. I was not overweight when I was twenty, I am now. If I exercise my will sufficiently, I may regain my former trim figure. I can’t, however, do this while still indulging my penchant for crinkle-cut potato chips. Some effects are mutually exclusive.
To prevent this Mustard Seed from becoming overweight, I’ll wait until next week to introduce the effect of introducing other people’s will into the equation.
Peter T Elliott