Predestination or Free Will?

November 25, 2010 at 5:14 am | Posted in Philosophy | Leave a comment
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The Plinky prompt for yesterday was “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?”

Many people believe that everything in life is pre-ordained, and that you cannot change your fate. I suppose that is why the term fatalism was coined. Such a belief does not sit well with those who belong to the Christian religions, in which the doctrine of free will is a basic tenet. How a person can hold two such conflicting beliefs at the same time beats me. They are incompatible – your fate is either pre-determined, or you have the free will to choose it.

 However, even given that conflict of beliefs, most fundamentalist Christians – and probably those of other faiths too – believe that they are predestined for heaven. So, when the question is asked, do you believe everything happens for a reason, the first thing they think of is their destiny. The reason for everything, they say, is that their god has arranged it all for them. He is the reason. They need to believe in something that will provide a purpose to their life.

The way I look at it, the question is: do actions produce results? It is obvious to me that everything happens because of something else. It may be because of a word spoken; an action taken or not taken; it could be because someone was in the right place at the right time, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. Perhaps something happens accidentally, due to somebody’s lack of attention which, in turn, was caused by grief, anger, or other distracting emotion, that has resulted from a whole chain of circumstances seemingly unrelated to the final event.

 At each step in the chain, choices are made, or not made – which is itself a choice – by people. Any other choice could have led to a better or worse outcome but, at each stage, a variety of outcomes could have resulted. None of them was predetermined. They could be predicted, if the person making the choice was completely bound in some way that meant that it was not a choice at all. That does not, however, mean their choice is pre-destined. Many other factors can intervene.

 There are circumstances over which we, as individuals, have no control. Earthquakes; the weather –cold or hot, calm or stormy; the price of goods, including food; the existence or quality of services we can access; our opportunities to make money; and many more, all affect our lives in some way.

 Many things occur simply because two or more circumstances (all or some of which are the results of individual choices) happen to coincide. A drunk driver loses control of his vehicle just as someone steps out of a shop; a young man finds a diamond ring in the gutter; a baby is conceived because neither boy nor girl took precautions, and it just happened to be the girl’s fertile period. These instances are the result of events colliding in a way that produces an outcome, whether desirable, undesirable, or neutral. 

Yes, there is a reason for everything. Sometimes it is because of the decisions we all make; sometimes because of a conjunction of events. At times, what occurs is due simply to luck – whether good or bad. To a large extent, we can make our own destiny by acting on the events and circumstances around us. I do not believe that some being is manipulating us, our surroundings, nature, events, etc, in order to arrive at a particular outcome. Let’s take responsibility for our own lives.

© Linda Visman

The Cult of Celebrity

November 9, 2010 at 1:11 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I do not, and never have followed the cult of celebrity. It is, to me, a complete waste of the time, effort, and financial and emotional resources that can be spent on something or sombody important to me – somebody worthy of my attention. That means my husband, my children and grandchildren, my father, my siblings and their families, and my friends.

I can admire someone who does something well, who is a good and useful member of society, but I am apalled by the attention given to most so-called celebrities. Who cares if a couple of "stars" break up or if one of them is having an affaire, or a baby, or a breakdown? Who cares if they are going through their third or fourth drying-out from alcohol or drugs? I don't. That is their business and, if it doesn't affect me or mine, then what the heck!

Not only is the cult of celebrity a waste of time, it is also dangerous. Most "celebrities" that people rave over are just ordinary people. However, in being public figures who come to think of themselves as special, they also come to believe they are above following the usual norms of society. It is the adulation they receive that often leads them to waste their lives and their talents. Not only that, but the antics of many are emulated by young – and not so young – wannabes who are following a false and misguided star. I certainly don't want any of my family to emulate the lifestyle of most "celebrities".

The cult of celebrity wastes many people's resources – financial, emotional and creative. Enjoy what "celebrities" do, I say, but don't waste your time thinking they are better than anyone else. Put your energies into making a better life and a better world for yourself, your family and your society.

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Hello, Spider!

November 7, 2010 at 8:58 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Australia is known for the number and variety of its spiders as well as for its snakes. I have often found great big spiders in my bedroom, the kitchen, living room, etc. When I go to Dad's, I find more of them, as they can get inside more easily there.

They are called huntsman spiders, and usually live in and on trees, where their bodies blend in with the bark. Huntsman spiders are common in most parts of Australia. They can vary in body size, leg length and colour, but generally grow pretty big. I have seen them big enough to cover a saucer when their legs are spread out. Fortunately, they are not very aggressive, and if they do bite, it is not usually much of a problem.

When I find one of these big spiders inside, my first wish is to catch them so I can take them back into their own domain. To do this I get a firm sheet of paper and a large plastic container – one I can see through for preference. The container goes over the spider – hopefully it is on a flat surface – then slide the paper under it. I take the container away from the wall, keeping the paper flat over its top, and get someone to open the door so I can carry it outside, where I release it.

Success in catching it, depends on how active the spider is. Sometimes, if it won't stay still, it can be impossible to catch. At other times, it is a piece of cake. If I don't succeed, then the insect sprat or a shoe heel comes into play. After all, I don't want that spider crawling over my face in the middle of the night!

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Why Lie About My Age?

November 2, 2010 at 11:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have never actually lied about my age, though I have gone into places where I was supposed to be older.

In Australia, the legal age of adulthood, the drinking age, was twenty-one until after I actually reached that age. I was in my twenties when it was lowered to eighteen. As a result, if I went into a pub or a club and imbibed alcohol, I was breaking the law. I did it anyway.

I was married at twenty, was teaching in schools, and regarded myself as an adult. Consequently, I went with my fiance-then-husband to pubs and clubs and had my Bacardi-and-Coke. The laws were not as strictly enforced then as they are now, and I was never questioned about my age, even though I did look very young. If I had been asked, I would have admitted to being under-age – my drivers licence showed it anyway.

Apart from that issue though, I have never seen any reason to pretend about my age. Many women are horrified at the thought that people might find out their age. They go to great measured to keep it a secret. I don't care about that – I am what I am. I have lived the years I have, and don't see why I should pretend differently. Indeed, I am proud of them. After all, some of those years were hard-earned!

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