The power of free will

Gifted with yet another beautiful day in this life. How am I going to spend it? At the beach with my wonderful fiancé, Lana. First thing’s first: we need some money for the trip. I spent the rest of my cash on takeout dinner last night.

On the way to the bank, my fiancé reaches for my hand, smiles, then says, “Pat, I’m really looking forward to spending the day with you. And I’m looking forward to spending my life with you even more. I’m so happy I met you.”

I smile back, give her hand a squeeze, and reply, “Believe me, I am too, Lana. It’s crazy how every little choice we made throughout our lives eventually led us to each other. It just goes to show: no decision we make is ever really small.”

Entering the bank, we are greeted with friendly faces from employees and customers. “How are you doing today? What can I do for you?” the polite teller asks as we walk toward her window.

Pulling my arm around her, Lana happily states, “We’re here to withdraw some money from our account. My amazing fiancé is taking me to soak up some sun at the beach!” Smiling proudly, I say, “Yep that’s right! Could I please take out-” *gunfire begins going off near the entrance of the bank causing screeches of terror*

I grab Lana and pull her down to the ground with me in cover. “Pat, what’s happening?” my frightened fiancé shrieks over the loud rounds of bullets.

“I don’t know, just keep your head down!” I reply as I try to get a glimpse of the culprits.

Soon, the guns cease fire and an armed couple, appearing to be a man and a woman, dressed in black suits and ski masks, storm in. The man approaches his partner, locks hands with her, then fiercely yells, “Nobody move a muscle! If you do, your chances of living will dramatically drop!”

The woman chimes in, “Believe me, if my husband doesn’t kill you, I will!”

Lana fearfully grips my arm as I pull her close, both of us too afraid to speak. After making their entrance, the man makes his way over to the back where the vault is located, and begins work on breaking into it.

Meanwhile, the woman orders all of the hostages to line up in two rows, kneeling and facing one another. I look deeply into Lana’s eyes across from me, unable to embrace her, terrified of not making it out of this alive.

After what felt like ages of watching the female robber pace around the group of captives, she stops, looks at Lana’s hand, cynically smiles, then hollers, “Oh honey! Are you almost done? I have great news!”

The male gunman walks over to her, holding bags of money, and says, “What is it? We need to go!”

The wife replies, “We need to give an early wedding present to a special couple who thinks they have our kind of love!”

Mine and Lana’s eyes widen as the armed couple approaches us. They pull out two guns and hand one to each of us. Scared and confused, Lana and I look at each other, not knowing what’s coming next.

The woman then says, “Here is a real test of your love: One of you has to shoot the other; otherwise, we’ll kill everyone! Who’s willing to die so the other can live? The choice is yours! Raise your guns!”

In disbelief, we hold the guns up, with trembling hands, looking into each other’s tearful eyes, mouthing the words, “I love you.” After a few moments, the twisted couple becomes impatient and the man yells, “Do it now or die!”

Sensing our low decision time, I say, “Lana, let me be the one. Please, just do it.”

“No, Pat, I can’t! I couldn’t live with myself! We were supposed to spend our lives together!” my fiancé replies as she bursts into tears.

Feeling our time run out, I knew we had to make a decision now. I raise the gun toward my head, look into Lana’s eyes as she screams in terror, and just before I pull the trigger, the two robbers are shot dead by a police sniper perched on a rooftop across the street.

Although this story is fictional, it displays an extreme, yet entertaining, example of how powerful the choices we make in life can truly be.

Many times throughout our lives, we make decisions without really taking the time to consider how it will impact ourselves or others in the future. With work, we, as human beings, can lower the frequency of that mistake and promote a brighter future for all of us.

“With great power, comes great responsibility,” – Francois-Marie Arouet aka Voltaire.