“Every one of us will change the world, whether we mean to or not. Shift anything in the world the slightest bit and you may have the catalyst that turns a monsoon into a blue sky (or the other way around). Pick up some stranger’s crying baby that baby may turn out to be an artist instead of a tyrant…All you know for sure is that your best laid plans are susceptible to chaos, and—conversely. There is no order without chaos. There is no chaos without order. They give birth to each other, again and again. The apparent truth is that we belong to a web of creation in which nothing, absolutely nothing, is inconsequential.” – Barbara Taylor
Since the time mankind could reason, especially in religion and spirituality, the debate goes on – are we under the control of divine providence or are we shaped by our own free-will?
The determinist approach proposes that all behavior has a cause and is thus predictable. Free will is an illusion, and our behavior is governed by internal or external forces over which we have no control.
For humanistic psychologists such as Maslow (1943) and Rogers (1951) freedom is not only possible but also necessary if we are to become fully functional human beings. Both see self-actualization as a unique human need and form of motivation setting us apart from all other species. There is thus a line to be drawn between the natural and the social sciences.
Freud also viewed behavior being controlled from inside the individual, in the form of unconscious motivation or childhood events, known as psychic determinism.
This insight has been taken up by several neo-Freudians. One of the most influential has been Erich Fromm (1941). In “Fear of Freedom” he argues that all of us have the potential to control our own lives but that many of us are too afraid to do so.
Psychologists who take the free will view suggest that determinism removes freedom and dignity, and devalues human behavior. By creating general laws of behavior, deterministic psychology underestimates the uniqueness of human beings and their freedom to choose their own destiny.
Theologians have debated the issue of determinism and freewill throughout history. The best explanation I have heard is from Alistair Begg, a minster from Scotland: “Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, yet He treated his betrayer as a friend, even at the Last Supper. In this scene we see the mysterious harmony between God’s sovereignty and human volition, as they work together to fulfill a predetermined purpose. We do not need to fully understand how these two truths can coexist – we can simply rest in the fact that God is always just and good.”
World events, since the coronavirus and the recent renewed focus on civil rights has sure shaken all of us. I suppose the advantage of spending most of my life in the touring business, is that the constant changes in schedules, civil unrest in the different countries, not to mention the constantly changing attitudes of many artists, and the list goes on and on, has helped me better adapt to this recent cosmic shift.
I can sure relate today to Chevy Chase’s line from the movie “Christmas Vacation: “If I woke up tomorrow morning with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”
Trying to grasp the balance between determinism and free-will will probably play out the rest of our lives. Recent events have pushed us to dig a little deeper into some of life’s biggest questions and find real answers.
The music business seems to be a blatant example of how determinism or God’s providence and free-will compliment each other when it come to an artist’s talents. There is no doubt that hard work and dedication are important ingredients, but without that spark of divine providence, gaining traction is a dead-end street. I have had the good fortune of working with artist like John Waite, Linda Ronstadt, The Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, and many others that had voices that were unique and could not be duplicated. The same with guitar greats such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Richie Blackmore…..