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The Terminated Society: Post Modern Determinism Published: Sunday, July 20, 2003 By: Manuel Maldonado

Once again humanity has been attacked by the Terminator and for the first time in the blockbuster series the humans lost a round. Regardless of the plot details, I was stunned by the central message of the movie, which is, what is going to happen in the future is going to happen, and therefore is unavoidable, so do not try to change it.

In philosophy there is a stream of thinkers which concur with this statement, they are known as the determinist. Proponents of determinism sometimes claim that free will is an illusion, and that human beings are no more able to control matter, environments, behaviors and situations with their minds and actions than any other soulless matter (such as a terminator) can.

Much of the belief in determinism was inspired by Newtonian physics, among other great philosophers such as Plato, Hegel and Marx; in which the universe was seen as a collection of billiard balls interacting according to the laws of physics. In this view, once the initial conditions of the universe were known, the behavior of the universe for all time would be determined.

If the determinist proposition is correct, then we can assume that in the end, no matter what we do, we won’t make a difference. And if we can’t make a difference then humans, as individuals, and society, as a whole, are terminated. Personally, I do not concur with the belief that humans are puppets caught in an ever ending stream of predetermined stimulus, emotions, decisions and actions. Accepting this belief is like saying that people and society, have no hope of enhancing their competencies, realities and myriad array of possibilities. I believe that the power to make a difference is inside us. When effectively aligned efforts, resources and free-will are deployed everybody can overcome the prophecy of disaster. Let me explain with an example, I’ve always been overweight; as a matter of fact I weighted 488 pounds on this date last year. If I believed, that my future was to forever remain chained, by the physical, cognitive and emotional limitations of being overweight, I would still be weighting 488 pounds today. Instead I am weighting 373 pounds.

Therefore, our beliefs and interpretations of reality will affect our behaviors and interactions; in other words, I believed I could lose weight, so I have lost weight. Consequently, if we come to accept that we live in a terminated society, then all our decisions and actions will revolve around a sense of helplessness, pessimism and despair.

Today’s reality requires that each and every one of us deploy actions, behaviors and efforts geared toward making a sustainable contribution society. In the process we’ll be contributing to elevate Puerto Rico’s competitiveness and quality of life, thus, enhancing opportunities for younger generations.

It is time that we exorcise the terminated society syndrome, which is the core theme of many ideological, political and social discussions. Instead of focusing in what are the things that we can’t do, we must focus in those things we can do. We must stop to see ourselves as helpless against problems, as an alternative we must see ourselves as empowered problem solvers.

Finally, when all is said and done, we must answer these questions: What was my legacy to society? Did I contributed to enhance society or contributed to terminate society? At the end, we wouldn’t like to hear Arnold saying: “All is terminated”. With the help of God it is possible to create a world that works for all.


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