Being a savvy, hi-tech office, my co-workers here at consist of individuals located throughout the world. I have colleagues who are geographically based near our headquarters in New York, while others are located globally, in Pittsburgh, Chicago and even cities as remote as Rome and Jerusalem, while I am situated in Toronto, Canada.

In order to create an office atmosphere for all of us to communicate, share opinions and even just vent, out technical team put together an online internal forum, where any of us can post questions, ideas, opinions, thoughts and responses. It's through this forum that we get to know our colleagues—virtual strangers in real life, whom we've never met, but whose opinions on all sorts of issues, and whose sometimes quirky work habits, we've become intimately familiar with.

From their participation on this forum, I can tell which colleagues are early risers and which keep the midnight oil burning, which get their spurts of energy erratically during last minute work deadlines and which like to work more methodically and consistently in tackling their responsibilities. I can also tell who is feisty or who is easy-going (and whom you just plain want to avoid any confrontation with); who is a radical revolutionary and who is the traditional conformist; who likes to raise eyebrows and who likes to follow the tried and true path. The only one generality that I can observe about my co-workers is their diversity. (I would say the greatest common denominator amongst all of us is our workaholic devotion to, which I haven't yet figured out how our personnel do such a good job detecting in the hiring process.)

I can almost always foretell how each of my co-workers will respond to an issue, based on their personalities, backgrounds, tendencies and where they grew up or currently live.

But maybe because we've become acquainted with one another through the very one-dimensional medium of an online forum—rather than personal interaction where we'd be able to sense subtle aspects of each individual's personality—we present ourselves, and learn about one another, in black-and-white terms.

Without even reading a post, I can almost always foretell how each co-worker will respond to an issue. Based on their personalities, backgrounds, tendencies and where they grew up or currently live, I'm rarely surprised by the predictability of each of their comments. The traditionalist will, on cue, react traditionally; the avante guard will forever be forward-thinking. The methodical and the spontaneous will remain in their respective realms, while the opinionated will consistently express strong, one-sided opinions.

Time and again after noticing this pattern, I began to wonder, isn't the liberal just as stuck in his box of liberalism as the conservative is in his? Isn't the inconsistent individual just as consistently inconsistent as the consistent individual is consistent? And won't the faithful anti-censorist automatically censor anything smacking of censorship?

Are any of us really "out of the box"? Or does the way we respond to any given circumstance merely reflect our innate personalities, education, parental and societal expectations?

It is true that there are those of us whose thinking may seem more "out of the box" than others, but is it just a wider box that we've constructed? Wouldn't someone else with an identical set of criteria create the exact same box? And even those of us who may be so unique as to think differently than almost everyone else—isn't that individual too, in his own box, just one that merely holds only him, based on his unique life experiences, intellectual thought processes and emotional tendencies?

Our sages say, "Everything is in the hand of heaven, except for the fear of heaven." Are our innate propensities, thoughts, predispositions, characteristics and initial responses all pre-ordained from heaven? Is it perhaps only in how we direct, channel and act upon these tendencies that we have true freedom?

What are your thoughts?

Are any of us truly "out of the box"?