Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The power of choice...

Are the outcomes of our lives affected by fate, chance, or choice?

"I will not go down under the ground because someone told me that death is coming around. And I will not carry myself down to die. When I go to my grave my head will be high"

After exhaustingly discussing this question for an entire year with my former Senior English class, I have heard every form of interpretation in regards to this question. Some have analyzed it through a completely literal sense, while others have taken the time to analyze the perplexities of this purposely open ended question. I tend to ask my students overtly frustrating questions that have no right or wrong answer if backed up appropriately with educated evidence. Surprisingly when it came down to our year long essential question dialogue my opinions on the matter were swayed frequently due to an overwhelming amount of personal educated evidence accompanied by constant argumentative "what if" statements. As the school year came to a close my Seniors left the class room for the last time still amazed at how one question can create conversation for an entire year. I on the other hand exhausted beyond measure closed the door on any thoughts in regards to this question and prepared to move on to the next school year. Strangely enough without warning my peers have taken it upon themselves to pry open this door and open new facets to old ideals I thought I previously explored to full extent.
When discussing topics that people have strong emotions about I do not often give my own opinion as I prefer to stay a neutral observer. Undoubtedly I hold steadfast to my own personal values and convictions that affect my thoughts, beliefs, and actions. It is still necessary however to give myself the opportunity to hear different thoughts and ideas that may differ from my own. Case in point three of my most respectable friends have had separate conversations with me about the reality of tarot card readings, fortune cookies, psychics, and horoscopes. Though I personally may not believe in the previously stated I understand the need for those beliefs. As an English teacher I can say many have become desensitized to things because of a lack of proof. I am constantly reminding my students to give more detail, add more evidence to back up their thoughts and opinions. However this can not extend to every facet of life. As a firm believer in God I know that I can not scientifically prove everything and it would be selfish and hypocritical of me to ask my peers to do the same. Their choice to believe in prediction creates a sense of dependency on fate.
Believing that "if something is meant to be it will be…" is not a mantra I hold close at all. While I respect the nature of my friends beliefs I see complete blind trust in fate as the manipulation of one of the most powerful weapons in the world: an idea. An idea once created or planted in someones mind can spiral into many different things. An idea is impossible to kill and can grow into a positive or negative influence in someone's life. Horoscopes, tarot cards, and psychics manipulate our ideas by planting their own thoughts into our minds in the most general way possible. Humans by nature are made to love, are made to feel pain, are made to have moments of strength and moments of insecurity. Therefore these outlets create a false atmosphere of fate, stripping away the true nature of choice. We have all made bad decisions in our past that have affected our present. A psychic or tarot card reading that discusses my decisions making me who I am or telling me I am still discovering myself is nothing specific to me, but more so addressing a general human journey.
From time to time I do fall into the trap and check to see if I will have a good day based on what my daily horoscope says. However I can not truly base my day on what an 160 character horoscope from the Daily News has stated. Ultimately I have the final choice to decide how my day will play out and while I can not control every thing in my environment, I refuse to let any one take away my power by telling me "today I will have a bad day" or "my one true love will tell me something great". I know I physically do not have much but I know that all I have is the choices that I make. It's difficult to state what is right or wrong when it comes to someones beliefs or thoughts about an issue. After a few discussions today the overall consensus I received was, while it is difficult to truly differentiate the difference between fate, chance and choice at times, ultimately we make decisions and choices that alter our outcomes. Striking the lotto doesn't mean you're lucky it means you made the right choice to play those numbers that specific day. Allowing someone to control you physically or mentally is a choice. Being unhappy in a relationship is a choice. And while choosing to do better, or to do the right thing is always difficult it is always a choice laid out on the table. When it comes down to the very basic survival of your self, choice is one of your biggest and most powerful weapons.
A truly inspirational friend told me: "There are things we do almost if not every day that affects the outcomes of our lives. It's all our choice, not fate or chance… we make the choices that lead up to fate or chance" --R.S


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