One last set of questions for this week, then back to regular posts.
How big a role does fate play in daily life, decision making and planning ahead?
How many things in life can you control or change? Are there limits to what you can do or become?
How many things in life just have to be accepted because they cannot be controlled or changed?
Does “personal will” play a more or less important role over destiny?
Is lack of success partly a result of good/bad luck, or can you make you own luck and happiness?
Are people generally optimistic or realistic/fatalistic?
Is life what you make it or is life what happens to you?
To sum it up, do we have the power to impose control over how our lives will turn out or does that power come mainly from the outside, through external events and fate?
Italian women do not hold baby showers. Or wedding showers. Those parties we throw for our friends BEFORE the event takes place. Why not? By (arrogantly) assuming that no external event or force could intervene in the meantime, like the fiancée running off with his secretary to the Maldives or a stillborn baby, we would surely bring on the “evil eye”. I know a perfectly intelligent high level professional couple that never put their child in a baby seat or seat belt (back when this was an option), because, in any case, what will happen will happen and a seat belt could actually bring on an accident by somehow taunting fate.
Americans are on the extreme of this spectrum as well. We really believe that we can control the future, we say, “where there is a will, there is a way”, “life is what you make it”, “tomorrow is another day”, we produce the world supply of self-help books, and this empowerment is part of what makes American’s American. If we can just get it all planned out, all the possible pitfalls worked out, be really, really optimistic and believe in the power of ourselves, we can do anything.
Wow. This is a cultural imperative and it is hard for us to see that this is not the way things are for most of the world that flows along and drops off at some point of the spectrum. Somewhere at the other end, there is a Southern Arabian proverb that says, “Caution does not avert the decree of fate”.