C’est la vie, pas de choix

My partner and I have been watching a documentary series called A Century of Warfare. This includes 13 DVDs, all about the various wars of the twentieth century. Watching the immense destruction and the various tactical maneuvers is fascinating. Even more so, it’s tragic yet interesting to see how many individual lives were affected by the wars. The documentary series made me think about a big word; destiny.

The word has fallen out of grace today: talking about it may well prompt a yawn in the audience. Destiny is the stuff soap operas are made of. Instead of the concept of fate or destiny, we fill our heads with thoughts like: “What do I want out of life?” or “Have I really fully utilized my potential?” Many of us, belonging to the Western middle class, have the liberty to more or less choose our destinies.

Of course, it is naive to believe in a concept of total freedom. Of course, I do understand that there  still are great oppressive forces at place, just of different sort. Nevertheless, I do wonder if we haven’t become so entangled with thinking about our rights and oppressors, that we have lost sight of how little choices we had over our lives only a couple of decades ago. It is healthy to remember that we are really not so far from the days when if your father was a farmer, that’s what you’d become, too. C’est la vie, pas de choix. (It is life, [there are] no choices.)

While we definitely should cherish all our freedoms, and the freedom of not having our lives clouded by war at the moment, I wonder if we can handle not having a destiny dictated to us. We need to come to terms with our freedom. Some people have solved this by getting a massive mortgage; paying a large mortgage binds you down and becomes your destiny. It is surprising how infinitely many people in the west have believed the meaning of life to be “pay off your mortgage”, or to “pay one’s dues”.

So how to come to terms with all our possibilities – our freedom – in a positive, respectful and sustainable way? Not sure, I’ll report back when I have the answer. Recently, though, I’ve heard of a website called Hunch, which can help you make all sorts of decisions, from what kind of yoghurt to choose at the grocery store to what kind of a car to buy. Perhaps this helps us deal with freedom? Or is it just another way to give your destiny away? www.hunch.com .

Anyways, for anyone out there, suffering from a modern mild depression, I can recommend this documentary series, A Century of Warfare. If your life at times feels like there’s no meaning or that you’re engaged with pointless shit, try imagining yourself in a trench on the western front 1918.


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