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  • Writer's pictureDana Webster


I woke up to snow this morning (Wednesday April 27). My random-playing music library keeps throwing Christmas music at me. How does it know? Yesterday, I watched a Blue Jay gather a bunch of plant bits for the nest it's building. And all around our place, greenery and early spring flowers are flourishing. They are coming up no matter what.

There is a philosophical theory called determinism. Basically, it means that every event is causal; thereby suggesting that we are never really responsible for our actions. We can lay them at the door of our genetics and the environment we grew up in.


You know me well enough by now to know that I couldn't possibly subscribe to this theory as far as human beings go. I way prefer the idea of free will. Although, when it comes to things like the likelihood of fair-skinned people burning under the sun's rays, sure. That's just the genetic card they were dealt. But, free will gives them the option to throw on a long-sleeved shirt or suffer the predictable consequences.

Some people use determinism to excuse racism and misogyny and all the other

-isms. Without bothering to Duck Duck Go (the anti-Google search engine) the facts like history, they cling to the notion that this is the natural order of things, immovable, inviolable, just because it has been so in their minuscule time on earth.

But, what about Mother Nature? Is she all "I've been doing it this way for eons, so let's not fix what ain't broken"? Probably, but with reasoned thinking. She knows what works; sheer determination to survive and thrive is the key. I know thousands of species have gone extinct over the gazillion years of earth's existence but what if that wasn't so much about random annihilation as about wise survival manoeuvring?

Actually, given our apparent hurry to eradicate earth as a viable planet, I take comfort in knowing that even before we got here, chaos, death and destruction were pretty common. I guess the difference is that it was all Mother Nature's doing so she could take her time, plan it out, and execute when the time was right. I like to think that what we have to offer her is a challenge, one she has not encountered in all her years and is, therefore, grateful to meet.

Here's a thought. The big bang theory of creation is the one scientists, up to this point, are pretty agreed upon. I don't understand the science of it, obviously, but I do get the gist - CHAOS! HEAT! EXPANSION! LIFE! What could possibly have led the universe to this course of action? Did it know beforehand what it was creating? Was there a master plan, a blueprint? Or, did it just get bored one day with same-old-same-old and decide to change it up a bit? How long did it take for the universe to exclaim, chagrined, "Oops! What have I done?" Or, perhaps, "Well, will ya' look at that."?

Whatever the motives, are we thinking determinism or free will? I don't think we'll ever know (ha!) but I'm going to go ahead and conjecture it was both. Determinism because certain immutable factors had to be in place for the original bang and for earth and all its species to evolve as they have (genetics, DNA). Free will because choices have had to be made along the way - who/what survives, who/what evolves and who/what mutates.

For now, though, circling back, the new shoots of spring continue undaunted to push up through the dirt, caring not if there is sunshine and warmth or snow and cold on the surface. Probably, it's simply determined to do so because it has always done so. I like to think, too, that it chooses life simply because it can, because maybe Mother Nature likes to take credit for a job well-done.

It's comforting to know that some things never change.

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