Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dear Brutus

Destiny is but a phrase of the weak human heart - the dark apology for every error.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
Hello Rose
One of the most amazing things about the human race is the intricate and imaginative ways we have of justifying ourselves. If you ask a man what his goal in life is you will probably get an answer, but the answer will most likely have more to do with his purpose in regard to what he does. A life's goal is a deeply held secret thing that is hard, and perhaps impossible, to put into words. It is the unspoken and invisible challenge that motivates but continually frustrates us. It comes from a consciousness we are only occasionally aware of. It is a matter of personal achievement, of finding and filling one's true destiny.

A man can describe himself as a craftsman of some sort. He may say that his goal is to be a better one, a master at his craft, but that brings on the question of why he isn't. And the answer to that question is so elusive it seems to be outside of himself. It's a mystery.

Gradually appearing on the mental horizon comes the nasty four letter word FATE. Yes, there is no doubt in his mind there is something, some unexplainable thing that keeps him from achieving his purpose in life. He has an urgent need to find and understand that thing, that force from beyond him, that keeps him down.

Ancient priests used to sacrifice sheep and read the entrails to find answers. In Asia they would cast the I Ching by reading the lines on the belly of a tortoise. Astronomers could chart the future of men and nations by reading the stars. It is written that the mother of Alexander the Great held off giving birth to him until the court astronomer said the stars were in the exact proper location for greatness. His success was "in the stars." But what does Shakespeare say? "The fault, dear Brutus, in not in our starts but in ourselves that we are underlings."

The search for the mystical truth got more personal with palmistry, gazing into a crystal ball or a circle on the ground, reading tea leaves or coffee grounds. And then there are the cards. The mystic can read your destiny in the cards. Which gives you an ample excuse for failure. If it's "not in our stars" and "not in the cards" where is it?

The emergence of a new kind of religion in the early Middle Ages gave us the answer. It's Satan, Beelzebub, Mephistopheles, the Devil. "The Devil made me fail." That's a good one. It lends itself to all sorts of colorful self justification and ritual confession, sacrifice and cleansing. We all know what the Devil does. Satan is responsible for all tornados, typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, for all non Christian religions, for murder (the illegal kind), for illness, insanity and death, for noisy neighbors, disobedient children and snakes, for Communism, Hollywood and the Democratic Party. Or so we have been told by one pastor or another.

If we could just get the Devil out of our lives our destiny would improve, success would be possible and happiness assured.

But wait. The Devil has been replaced. There's a new crystal ball, a new circle on the ground, a new deck of cards, a new zodiac. DNA. Instead of the Devil it was "my DNA made me fail." The modern mystic can chart your destiny by reading the DNA leaves. It provides a solid scientific reason for self justification

How long will it be before they find a way to alter your DNA, before we decide who lives and who doesn't based on their DNA and thus their probability of success or failure, of benevolent or criminal behavior? When will chemistry take the place of ethics?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our DNA.

William Jennings Bryan wrote "Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Dana Bate - Vagabond Journeys
Never Give Up.


What event over the past year changed your life, a lot or a little?

Only 3 answers so far.

I await your answers.


Geo. said...

" seems to be outside of himself. It's a mystery."

I like that, DB. By my reckoning, the universe does not dispose of a mystery. So it's probably in our best interest to remain one.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Choice, a very powerful thing.

pacifica62 said...

DB, this entry is one of your finest. Very well done.