Sunday, 23 May 2010

Do You Believe in Fate?


Do you believe in it?

Or is the whole concept merely an irrational symptom of a very human desire to make sense of the crazy world around us?

With society in general becoming ever more secular, has the notion of fate - of our lives having some pre-destined path - taken up the slack and helped to fill a spiritual void?

I have to say that I balk at the concept of our paths having been already mapped out for us before we even begin the journey. I will not be denied my own agency. I cannot accept that I'm not in control of my own life and that I am simply at the mercy of fates hand; a little cork bobbing helplessly around on the surface of the sea, buffeted this way and that by lifes winds and currents. I believe that I live in choice. That I can make good choices or bad ones, but that either way they are mine. I own them. They are my responsibility. I know that through my own efforts I can change and improve if need be. I know that I am the driving force behind my own destiny.

It is not possible to control every aspect of our lives however. Accidental circumstance can render one person at great disadvantage to another - where in the world you happen to have been born for example - how wealthy your parents are, or even what sort of upbringing you had. Unforeseen catastrophe can strike at any time and we can become the unwitting victims of a purely random tragedy such as a natural disaster, or a violent crime. Are we to believe then that these things are the products of fate, that they are somehow meant to be? When viewed through that lens, doesn't the whole concept of fate and its even more suspect cousin - the idea that we subconsciously choose our own paths - then become a tad offensive? I would not like to try to explain to a mother who had been caught in the crossfire of a civil war and forced to flee with her children to a refugee camp many miles away from her home, that her personal tragedy and my relative comfort and luxury were all part of a grand scheme that was somehow written in the stars.

No. I am happy to accept that my life is made up of some entirely coincidental and random happenstance on the one hand - and my own conscious design on the other. I will not hand over to fate the credit for all that is good in my life and neither will I abdicate responsibility for that which is bad. For the things that I can't control, well... I have been working on my best c'est la vie style shrug for ages. It's still a wee bit unconvincing if I'm honest, but it's coming along.

Single Parenthood... Tales From the Front Line, welcomes all points of view. If you disagree with me, don't be shy. I'm interested in what everybody has to say.


  1. Really thought provoking post. I must say I believe in predestination - that our entire lives are already mapped out for us and that even the choices that you make are ones already decided for you.
    But I think I would rather a world where we can choose our own destiny and have control over how life turns out for us so for once in my life I'd love if someone could prove me wrong...

  2. No I absolutely do not. Believe in fate that is. If I coild remember my philosophy, I would be able to debate about free will and how it and fate are mutually exclusive. I don't believe that there is some grand plan mapped out in the stars or that we just can't see the 'tapestry'to life. That is not to say that I don't believe there might be something greater than us - not sure what it is - (my jury's still out on that one but it's not God in any conventional sense) but I don't believe that it's written in the stars.

    Interesting topic.

  3. My problem with Fate is that it's the idea that someone or something outside has mapped it all out for us. Which is rubbish. But I do think the type of person we are influences the choices we make and how we react to life's incidents... and it is this that can steer us down certain paths and make us feel like it's all fated. It's not. It's just us being us. If we change our behaviour we change our "fate".

  4. I am also in the non believing camp. Everything happens for a reason, and most reasons can be tampered, altered and changed to suit (or not as the case may be). There is no higher influence, no divine intervention, just a series of actions and reactions to the choices we make.

  5. Sometimes things happen that I cannot explain and I suppose I call them fate. Like meeting like minded people who you get on with and become fast friends not last year when we stayed next door to each other on a holdiay but did not know it but when we meet at a mutual friend's party six months ago. Fate seemed to have a hand in us meeting and getting on if not the first time certainly the second...or more prosaically it was a coincidence! But a coincidence is far less romantic than fate.

  6. Why are some people seemingly destined to be healthy and some not? Or wealthy and some poor? Some poor people work so hard to get ahead and get education and want to have more but just can't do it. There are lots of questions with blurry answers. I like posts like this one that jostle the grey matter and inspire thought and discussion. Good job.

  7. I don't know if I believe in fate, but I think it's a nice, romantic idea. What I do take comfort in, is that whatever is pressing and hard at the moment, eventually goes down in history. That gives me a bit more comfort than fate. I do find myself thinking "this was meant to be." Is that the same as fate? I don't know.