Are you free? Can you make choices, or are you a robot with the illusion of freedom? The materialists argue for the robot model, trying to find evidence that even our so called free choice is just an illusion.
On the other hand, it sure does feel like I am free? I think of myself as making good and bad choices.
Boris Johnson, the irrepressible mayor of London, was caught in a particularly nasty and embarrassing scandal. He said, “My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.”
My Thanksgiving was not a disaster. It was deeply satisfying, since my son from Delaware brought his family to visit, and I was able to take my two granddaughters, both around five years of age, skiing. While there were moments of disaster, there were many opportunities to have fun and go quickly downhill, which should be my family motto.
People like the feasting of Thanksgiving, the post-dinner pies, and perhaps the rituals of watching or playing football. People often even like the family togetherness. I feel lucky, in that all my children were at the house now and then, getting along well and enjoying each other’s company.
I feel lucky to live where we can have a feast, we can afford plenty of food and plenty of time to enjoy it. I feel lucky that we have pretty good health and a pretty peaceful part of the world in which to live.
I feel lucky to work at helping other people remember and rejoice in their own lives.
I feel lucky to help people recall the importance of gratitude.
My life is good, and yours is too, if you choose to shift your attention.
Here’s a video, a narration by Brother David Steindl-Rast with some beautiful scenes.
Please take a moment and watch. It will take only five and a half minutes. You will be glad, because you will recognize that you do have freedom, you can shift your attention.
Then, reflect on another Boris Johnson quote:
“It is possible to have a pretty good life and career being a leech and a parasite in the media world, gadding about from TV studio to TV studio, writing inconsequential pieces and having a good time.”
We can all have a pretty good life, and much of that depends simply on shifting our attention to what we can feel grateful about, what we can feel, “Well, things have been worse, and right now things are pretty good.”
What if you are in the middle of “things are worse right now?” My granddaughter’s motto, when she has gotten hurt, is “It will be over soon.” The bad doesn’t last, if we will shift that attention toward the moment-to-moment change.
And that is our one freedom, the freedom to choose where to place our attention. Even if the materialists were right, even if in much of our life we do operate as an automaton, we do have that moment of freedom to shift our attention.
Today it is still thanksgiving time.