How much do we owe to chance? Let us examine some aspects.
OUR BODY AND HEALTH
We might have been born dark or fair, tall or short, visually or hearing impaired or not, with genetic mutations affecting even our progeny; we might have carried bacteria that would make us sick repeatedly and destine us to a short life. We might not be able to walk, run, play, travel on water or up the hill, climb up or down the stairs, stand upon heights, ride the jeep or a bus. We might have been afflicted by polio, early typhoid, whatever, as a child. In none of these would we have a choice. Neither the blame nor the credit would be ours.
We might have been born in a family across the wall or the street, professing another religion, even the one we are now at loggerheads with. And then we might well have been fighting and hating - or being hated by - the very community that we now die for, or are bracketed with.
We might well have been exchanged in the hospital we were born in minutes after birth, before our parents could even glance at us. In utter famine, war and other ghastly tragedies we might have been lost, and found or adopted by people we now call parents and profess their religion, without even knowing who we originally were.
Yes, we could have exercised an informed choice in adulthood, later on. We could have studied and compared various faiths and then chosen the one we now profess. But have we? How many of us ever bothered to even study the other faiths, much less compare?
We did not choose to be Indian, Pakistani, American, Nigerian… Our nationality is entirely a matter of chance. Sometimes it is pure accident. If one’s pregnant mother was travelling and delivered one in another land, perhaps the birth certificate would bear a totally different nationality. The children born a hundred meters across the border bear one that we are constantly at war with, and killing whom, straight away, makes us a hero.
If we were born in, say Denmark, our schooling, health, employment insurance would be the responsibility of the state. We would grow up with abundant free choices. For the children born in Sudan, Somalia or Madagaskar, on the other hand, everything would be decided by the war lords.
Because our parents were educated or well to do, they put us into a good school, hired us good tutors, provided us with ‘better’ company and environment which, in turn, offered us a series of valuable opportunities to encash, which together went into making ‘the happening and the successful us’ that we now are. How much of our present do we owe to the chance of our birth is only too obvious.
The food our parent fed us and the values they nourished us upon, again, are a gift – or a curse – we did not choose. But these have impacted us profoundly. Form our digestion to our sleep-cycle we owe so much to decisions we did not make.
Surely our own actions, our free choices are our own. We can legitimately take due credit for what we did of our own free will. But, come to think, how much of these is really OUR FREE CHOICE! Even here we seem to be affected by the state of our nation and our community in their historic cycles, our family and its connections, even the mohalla we happen to live in, and the umpteen chance visits, meetings, encounters, that dot our lives. Our actions, too, often depend upon sheer chance.
If this is the impact of CHANCE on our lives, what the heck do we celebrate our credit for? What the heck do we brag our achievements about? How the heck can we denigrate and condemn those that appear to have been left behind us? And, frankly, what the heck is our thick, fat ego all about?
[As for fate and predestination, the less I write about, the better.]