“Ah, I see you’re taking the road less travelled”, my GPS alerted me as I took the wrong exit. Using the app WaZe, I created my own collection of personalized navigation messages. This one just happened to be whenever the GPS needs to reroute. Unfortunately, this occurs quite often when I’m behind the wheel. Since the first time I read it in elementary to today, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” has stuck to me. However, it wasn’t until my junior year literature class which brought the poem under a different lens.
Through my childhood and adolescence, I mistook the meaning of “The Road Not Taken” as an allusion to the practice of individualism, and the glorified culture surrounding it. Conversely, the poem centralizes the conflict between individualism, and the consequences, or lack thereof, of such. Did the road I took influence who I am today, or, as argued by David C. Ward, I am who I am regardless of whichever path I chose. Hence, I pose my question: where has the world placed the needle on the spectrum of freedom to predestination?
The answer varies. Different doctrines teach different degrees of the prevalence of supernatural influence in our lives, varying from none, to absolute. Contrasting demographics, as well as culture, will factor into this as well. Outside of religious influences, I believe free will dominates predestination. That is not to say predestination is not present. Every individual will have factors that influence much of their life, such as race, gender, background, etc. For example, succeeding from a family in poverty is far more difficult than succeeding from a wealthy family. More or less, everyone has a separate “start” on the game of life, some ahead of others. However, through diligent effort and a few lucky tosses of the dice, it is possible to catch up.