Bill Campos, the 321st person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has developed some fascinating insights about human behaviour during his decades working as a clinical psychologist and in the field of mental health.

Generally, he discovered, humans are good people who do the best they can. It doesn’t always seem that way, because our actions may harm others, or harm ourselves, or appear irrational. Sometimes, though, that’s all we’re capable of.

That made me wonder – do we make our own choices or are we guided by more powerful forces?

For most of my life, I’ve believed humans have complete free will. But in the past few years, I’ve come to believe we’re almost entirely controlled by the society around us and internal programming developed years earlier.

Bill’s view is that our species as a whole has free will – when humans started walking the Earth, there was no guarantee that when we got to the year 2023, things would look exactly as they do now – but it’s unclear how much control each individual has over their destiny.

During Bill’s career, he’s evolved – whether consciously or otherwise – from healthcare worker to executive. For the past two years, he’s served as CEO of Independent Community Living Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that provides transitional and long-term housing for people living with mental health conditions and psychosocial disabilities. 

The two of us had a wonderful lunch, partly because we had so much to discuss and partly because each was intrigued by the other. 

One day, Bill told me wistfully, he hopes to find the time to have lunch with lots of strangers – which makes sense once you discover how much of a keen interest Bill takes in other people. As for me, I’m fascinated by human behaviour and love learning from people who know more about it than me.