This year, being of the Olympics, gave me pause as I read the text of an ancient inscription found at Olympia. “As you go to the starting point for the chariot race, there is an altar with an inscription to the Bringer of Fate.” This refers to Zeus, who knows what the Fates have in store and what is not, for each person.
The ancient Greeks believed in a power in which even the gods had to conform. The three fates were personalized as Thetis, Poros, and Tekmor. Thetis is the goddess of creation and the dispositions. Poros represented the path of the individual’s life. Tekmor was the ending of life, the end of everything.
The belief in fate or fatalism is widespread in its various forms across many cultures and religions on earth. Modernists like to say that they don’t believe in fate. Free will is what determines our lives.
Pop psychologists and armchair philosophers like to point to the great individuals of history who broke free of circumstance to achieve greatness and to create wonderous inventions and ideas.
Think of your own life. What sort of family is yours? Is it wealthy, poor, somewhere in between? How about your parents, strict, lenient, set in their ways or liberal? How about yourself; are you conservative and hold back or do you have a liberal, adventurous nature? What sort of opportunities were given to you. What were your setbacks and obstacles? Do you have a healthy or sickly disposition?
Where do you think the aspects of your life arise? Nature or nurture or both?
We’ve heard of rags to riches success stories. The great politicians like Napoleon and inventors like Booker T. Washington are examples. What sparked them to greatness above their childhood peers? There are people born into wealth and privilage. Some of them grow up conceited while others build upon their heritage to even more greatness.
How about the peoples of the earth? The aboriginal Americans suffered greatly at the hands of the people of European ancestry. The great civilizations fell despite knowing why previous civilizations crashed and burned. It appears that our civilization will disintigrate, too. Perhaps more quickly and decisively. Is it our fate? Is it simply because we prefer denial?
I’m of the mixed-bag school. We are born into a basic pattern or paradigm. Some of us, with great effort and desire, are able to break free of what seems like destiny. The great majority of us do not. We remain embedded in the familiar, the comfortable, the traditional.
What does the mixed bag hold in store for you and me and our civilization. Will it be up to the three Fates?
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes to set his mind free to dream and act upon those dreams.