I read two things today. Three actually, but one was the end of a novel and doesn’t count. I read Ki Tavo and I read an essay about bee keeping. And if everything happens for a reason, then there must be a reason that I read both today.
We’ve been thinking about keeping bees at our house for a few months now. Bees are fascinating and I think we can learn a lot from them. They are very organized and they survive only because they live in a group. They don’t have free will.
We, on the other hand, have free will and so far, it seems to be our greatest downfall. At least as a species. Apparently the biblical leaders of Moses’ time understood this. So Ki Tavo tells us all of the myriad and horrible ways that we will be cursed if we exercise free will in such a way that we do not keep the commandments that God and Moses have laid out for us. There will be plagues and bugs and death and pain, inflammation and disease, dust and sand. They used scare tactics to make us act right. Because, unfortunately, our free will does not always incline us to act right, to act in the best interests of our whole society. It inclines us to act selfishly and soul-lessly.
In raising two children, I’m occasionally tempted to scare them into good behavior. But usually I don’t. I prefer to teach them to look at their choices from a larger perspective and make them thoughtfully and with soul, with inclination to what is best both for them as individuals and as members of a larger group.
I wonder, is free will a gift or a curse? Obviously, I’m human and I can’t imagine living without free will. But there are those societies that do survive by removing at least some of their members’ free will. It’s sad that this is what humans might require in order to survive. Just look at American politics….our government is not about the greater good anymore. It’s about the right versus the left, liberal versus conservative.
Why is it so hard to set aside our own personal needs just long enough to see if fulfilling them is really in the best interest of everyone? Gosh…rereading this I sound so naive. I wish I were a bee.