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Cacao & Free Will Part 3

Cacao & Free Will Part 3

Hello and good day!

Scientists who claim that humans don't truly have free will reason as follows.

Our brain is a stew of chemicals. The chemicals are governed by the laws of chemical reactions. Each person has their own stew, created by genetics and experience.Brains have neuro-pathways that carry electric signals from one neuron to another.When a combination of neurons fire, the human body takes specific action.

Neuro-pathways deepen as more electric signals travel across them, meaning that the more you act in a certain way, the more likely you are to continue acting in that way.

Think of a ball rolling downhill or water circling the drain in a sink.Signals are pulled down into pathways. From what I can gather from reading several articles, the signals are set in motion as a result of chemical reactions. Chemical reactions are set off by data from the environment, brought into the brain through our sense organs.

The whole apparatus is built to help us achieve certain goals. There are the primordial goals of survival and procreation which pretty much everybody shares.   There are goals which accrue to us through genetics, a natural predisposition to want certain things based on who your ancestors were. And there are goals that develop as life goes on.

A person who has suffered abuse or trauma may have self-sabotaging goals. A person raised to have confidence and who feels loved may have more ambitious life affirming goals. It's all there in the chemical stew that is our brain. Stimuli, chemical reactions, signals, neurons, behavior in the real world.

It appears to be a nice self-contained, algorithmically driven system. And if that is all there is, you can easily understand the logical conclusion that free will isn't what we think it is.

We are conscious and experience the data from our sense organs in real time. We feel the inputs and have a front row seat to the outputs. It seems like we are in control, but we are nothing more than spectators in our own lives.

Before I go any further, please allow me to acknowledge that I am not a neuroscientist. My explanation above is an attempted regurgitation of information I have recently obtained. Some of it might be wrong. I may have misunderstood, or I may have inaccurately stated the facts. But I think the overall thrust is mostly right. I offer it as context for the following story.

When my brother Brian and his wife met, Brian was the boss of a multi-million dollar per year import export business. It was our business. We were importing mining equipment into Peru and selling it to the world's biggest gold mine. That went on for three years.

At that time, Brian was an absolute catch of a bachelor in the small town of Cajamarca, Peru. He was making great money by local standards. He was (and still is) a very handsome man. He spoke great Spanish. He cared about the local culture and often joined in protests on the side of the people against the mine, which was risky given that it was the mine who paid all his bills. He is funny and cool and hard working.

The proof that he was a highly desirable could be seen in the large number of female suitors who pursued him. He dated.

But the woman he was most interested in was his future wife. She, however, made him wait. She was more interested in pursuing her career and seeing the world than getting locked down in a relationship. Brian courted and she demurred for a couple of years.

We eventually decided to exit our distribution business because we didn't appreciate how the mine tried to bully the local community and we figured that the community would win the battle in the long run.

We were right about that.

Today, the mine is a shell of what it once was and what it could have become. There is still a ton of unmined gold in the mountains around Cajamarca. However, the people of the city protested almost every attempted expansion and the land under production has been mined clean.

So, we quit the business and now Brian was unemployed. Our business had banked some money from our time working with the mine. Brian worked on developing a sugar cane ethanol project that was to be located in the northern coastal deserts of Peru. He moved out of Cajamarca and began living out of hotels up and down the northern Peruvian coast.

It was during this time, when Brian moved out of Cajamarca and started living on the coast, that he and his future wife started to fall deeply in love.

Why the chemical stew in her brain figured that Brian was a better catch on the coast with no job than in the same town as her, with a stable job, is peculiar. She was still dedicated to her career and did not want to be married or have children.

That was fine by Brian.

On the same day that Brian's ethanol deal blew up, he received a call from his girlfriend with the news that she was pregnant. Now Brian was thirty-eight, with no job, and no prospects for a new business.He'd been trying to start a family business with my dad for 5 years.

He was living on the coast, while the mother of his child was living in the mountains. He didn't know what to do. It seemed like the honorable thing would be to move back to Cajamarca and propose marriage. He probably would have proposed marriage anyhow, so this speeded up the inevitable.

She said yes and shortly thereafter, they moved in together as a married couple awaiting the birth of their first child. Brian hung a shingle offering English lessons to mine employees. That went well and he started bringing home a decent income.

I believe that the most reasonable thing to do at this juncture would have been to continue growing the English school. It was stable. It meant he could stay in town with his wife and be with his daughter every day.

And yet, the dream of owning a family business with my dad wouldn't leave him alone. He attended chamber of commerce meetings frequently. He kept his ears open for business opportunities.

Just before his daughter was to be born, two opportunities presented themselves at the same time. The first was an opportunity to sell produce to the mine's cafeteria. The company who ran the cafeteria, Sodexho, was looking for somebody willing to go out to the jungle, find farms, buy produce, specifically bananas, and ship them back to the mine.

Sodexho hadn't been able to find anybody because Cajamarcans had a cultural bias against the agricultural zone. Nobody wanted to make the trip to the jungle. The businesspeople in town thought it was beneath them. Also, the agricultural zone had a reputation for mafia activity and people were scared they might get kidnapped.

When Brian heard about this, he was immediately interested. That is my brother for you. In the same week, he attended a chamber of commerce meeting in which a presentation was given about Peruvian cacao. There was unanimous disinterest in the topic.

The only person who approached the presenter for more information was Brian. The presenter was a government employee who put Brian in touch with the Director of Agriculture for the zone.

Brian met with the director and the director did his best to talk Brian out of pursuing cacao. In spite of that, Brian's heart was set on going to the agricultural zone. Mafia activity and reputation be damned.

He planned to research cacao and buying produce for the mine while he was there. It was a 17-hour bus ride to where he needed to go. If he ended up pursuing either of these businesses, he'd be making that bus trip often. His wife was 6 months pregnant.He already had a stable occupation.

And yet, the chemical stew was forcing him to do something fairly illogical (if you believe in a strict chemical stew theory, which I don't).

I am running out of space for now.

More to come tomorrow.

Thank you so much for your time today.

I hope that you have a truly blessed day!