Arcadia High School

Fate vs. free will: why you can’t believe in both

There is a black-or-white train of thought that does not sit well with me. It is always yes or no, this or that, help or hurt. When making a decision, everything becomes so much more complex, more misunderstood than what is seen on the surface. It sits in a grey area only I can fathom. But when it comes to the choice between fate and free will, its apparent to me that only one can exist.

This debate was brought up during my AP Literature class where we were asked to decide whether or not Romeo and Juliet’s deaths were caused by fate or free will. I was stunned by the number of people who attempted to find a grey area in which free will and fate coexisted. Because Romeo and Juliet’s families, the Montagues and Capulets, were at war, it is easy to say that fate doomed their relationship from the get-go. Although this family feud dates back several years, it persists because of their refusal to forgive and move on. Their decision to not forgive is a choice. And that freedom to choose is, in essence, the backbone of free will.

As wishy washy as I may be, I do believe that free will exists in our world. Free will is the ability to make decisions for oneself and act without constraint. In approximately two months, I will be graduating from high school and venturing off into adulthood when I attend the University of La Verne later in the Fall. Although one may perceive it as predestined fate for my sister not only attends this school, but boasts of the community feel and countless opportunities, I know that it was still my choice. It was my choice to keep up my grades, it was my choice to score well on the SAT, and it was my choice to work hard on the application. If my life was controlled by fate, then my efforts to get accepted were not earned but bound to occur.

Often times, fate is used as a means of avoiding ownership when one is at fault. Instead of taking ownership for one’s actions, many find comfort in knowing that everything they do was meant to be. But fate, and free will even, is not a one way street. For instance, a friend of mine applied to several colleges above her range and put little to no effort on the applications. As my friend waited for the results to come out, she would boast about how the top-notch colleges she applied to would be lucky to have her as a student. When the admittance letters came out, she was not accepted into any of them. Instead of saying ‘you know what, I screwed up,’ she reassured herself that it was never meant to be. This is where those who solely believe in fate run into problems. If fate is the possibility you believe exists in our world, than you must accept every fault and success as the result of someone else’s efforts. Because of this, there would be no way for my friend to say she deserved to be accepted or change her likelihood of being accepted for it was already predetermined by fate.

If your head hurts, I don’t blame you. However, at the end of the day you have the ability to choose whether to believe in fate or free will. But because you have the power to choose, wouldn’t that conclude that free will exists in our world, and not fate? Share your thoughts. I would love to hear them.