Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fatalism



morning sun on the mountains


I have discovered that one of the most interesting parts of writing a blog is the responses I get to what I have written. Almost every day I engage in some sort of online conversation with people about what I have written -sometimes affirming, sometimes asking questions, sometimes challenging my ideas. 

Recently I have noticed a pattern emerging from several blog responses, and the pattern is somewhat disturbing to me.   

Many times I will hear people respond to me by saying something like, "well, maybe that's the way it is,  but there is nothing we can do about it. War happens, violence happens, injustice happens, people are oppressed, racism exists, people suffer - but that's just the way it is; it's always been that way and there is nothing we can do to change it." This kind of response is worrisome to me because it is so very "fatalistic." 

"Fatalism" is a belief  that everything that happens has already been predetermined and cannot be changed." For some reason, I seem to be interacting with a lot of fatalistic people nowadays, and the most disturbing thing about this is that most of my fatalistic blog responders tend to be younger people. 

I think we fall into "fatalism" by confusing  the difference between "control" and "influence." I personally believe that we cannot control anything in life, but we can and do influence everything. 

The attempt to control life is a pure act of a bloated ego. Whenever "I" decide that life should proceed according to "my" agenda, I will always be sorely disappointed. I cannot control  how others think or feel or what they do. I cannot control world events. In fact I cannot control any event - I have no control over everything that will happen in my life today. 

But in saying this I am not being fatalistic because I don't think that anything that will happen today is preordained and unchangeable. In fact "everything" I say and do influences the whole world because everything and everyone everywhere is dynamically interconnected - a complex cosmic web of interdependence.

As I have reflected on it, I think people are "fatalistic" because at some level they aren't in touch with the realty of this dynamic interconnection. 

This morning as I was thinking about today's post, I looked up and saw a bowl of peaches, and I had this stream of consciousness reflection about how those particular peaches got to be sitting in that particular bowl at that particular time. 

I thought about the thousands of interrelated events, choices and transactions that influenced those peaches getting into that bowl - the choices people made to buy a peach farm and plant a peach seed, the weather conditions as the peaches were growing, the lives of the farmers who harvested them, the truckers who delivered them, the store owners and employees who sold them. Then there is the bowl that holds them and all the interrelated transactions that produced that glass bowl, and of course I had to drive to the store to buy them in a car, etc. etc. etc.

Anyhow my point is that everything that happens is always the result of dynamic complex interrelationships - the result of multiple factors and multiple decisions. So, everything I do and everything I say does indeed influence everything and everyone everywhere, because it's all connected.

A nasty comment or a gentle word of encouragement in everyday interactions will influence many outcomes in a multiplicity of ways, reverberating everywhere in ways that we will never know about or even be aware of. The choices we make never control the outcomes in life but they always influence them.

The psychologist William James once said:

Act as if what you do makes a difference- it does



my new book on amazon






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