PM writes: “I have always been a strong believer in being able to create my own destiny through my free will and efforts, but of late, due to events that have happened in my life, have begun to question the same and acknowledge the possibility of a written fate for everyone. I would love to get your thoughts on this topic. Also if fate really does score over free will, our entire lives and everything that we strive to do and achieve appears pointless.”

Let me tell you about a guy I went to school with named Steve. That’s not his real name, but it’s close enough. Steve was a jerk. He was one of those guys whose family has money, and he was reasonably good-looking, and he was reasonably popular with his male friends and thus, by association, with the girls and pretty much everyone else.

This is not what made him a jerk. What made him a jerk is that he was popular enough and smooth enough with people and good-looking enough that he would get away with all kinds of crap. He was the kind of guy who would give you a random punch in the arm and get away with it, because if anyone told one of the teachers they would automatically side with Steve no matter what… because hey it’s Steve and everyone likes him and he comes from an influential family and he’s never been in trouble before.  And if your evidence against him was too overwhelming, they let him away with it. He would cheat on tests, but knew just enough to look innocent if anyone questioned him about it. If my school years were an Archie comic, he would clearly be Reggie. A less funny, more violent Reggie.

So yeah: Steve was a guy who was handed a lot of gifts the moment he was born and did absolutely nothing with them to make himself a better person in any moral sense.

I never thought much about Steve when I was in high school, and not at all after I left. But one evening when I was sitting back and thinking about people who I remembered from school, I remembered him. I Googled his name and found out what he been up to since his arm-punching days.

After high school, he became a lawyer just like his father was. He must have been pretty good at it, because he got a job with one of the town’s biggest law firms and within two years he had his own firm.

He’s not a lawyer anymore. He quit voluntarily, after an investigation by the Law Society investigated him on 11 allegations of “professional misconduct,” including things like improperly transferring funds from client’s trust funds to his own account and making up phony invoices to hide it. He breached various accounting rules, failed to keep proper books, and in one particularly clever twist, claimed that he didn’t realize taking money from someone’s trust fund and putting it into his own account in violation of a court order would be a bad thing because “he used the Internet.” In all fairness, this happened in the year 2000, and I suppose there is some chance that a lawyer could somehow try to argue that the Internet was a magical new Wonderland not subject to the laws of humans.

Oh, and there was also some stuff about an investment firm he started that ate some people’s retirement savings, and some other thing involving crooked pre-paid credit cards. But I digress.

Now: if I was to build a time machine and go back and discuss all this with myself at that age, Younger Me would not be the least bit surprised. Steve was, after all, a jerk. But what if I built that Time Machine and went back to warn Steve about the consequences of his actions? Would that have stopped him?

I don’t know. Probably. But you know what? I’m willing to bet Steve would find something else underhanded to do, because that’s the kind of guy he is. Or is it because that’s the kind of guy he chose to be?

Thanks to legal documents online, I was able to find Steve’s date of birth. Can we blame Steve’s being a jerk on his Mars trine Jupiter, or him being a Leo with Moon trine Jupiter? Maybe, but that would likely just be hindsight. There’s lots of non-jerks out there who have the same factors in their charts. It seems to me that Steve has had some moral choice in how he has played the hand he was dealt. But ultimately, it’s still the hand he was dealt… and ultimately, that’s how he chose to play it.

So, does that answer your question about free will? Probably not. Philosophers – whether astrologers or not – have been tossing that one around for ages now, and I don’t believe I have anything new to contribute. As Heraclitus said: “character is destiny.” And Steve’s character is that of a jerk.

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