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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Living Out of Control

If you think about it, we are living a life that is out of our control. Indeed, while we may believe that we have enormous choice and the freedom that we assume comes with it if we earn a decent wage. Yet, even if we don't make a lot of money, we still believe we have a lot of choice about many of the things we have in life. 

Upon reflection, however, I realise how many times, we give too much credence to this idea that we have choices. Of course, we do have some choices but, nowadays, as we are depending more on people other than us, one has to re-evaluate our perception of choice. Sadly, if we assume we have greater control over our life than we actually do, there's a risk wee live with pretentious and with an attitude of arrogance thinking that we have the absolute right to a service or a product with out even   bothering to thank those who provided us with the means to achieve our goals with a polite expression of gratitude.

Granted, many times it's just not possible to thank all the people who have enabled you to fulfil your goal or need. Yet one should at least acknowledge the fact that behind the decisions you take there were people who have been instrumental to give rise to the necessary causes and conditions to enable you to make a choice in the first place.   

I feel that, today, I must acknowledge the contribution, however small, of anyone who made a thing possible.

I started meditating one morning as I was being driven to my office. It is here, of all places, that I realised how many people I depended on to get to work. Obviously, I depended on the driver and his motor skills. But, then when I thought about it there are plenty more. More than would fit in an entry without making it read as the first chapter of Genesis. But, it's worthwhile if we recognised a few - perhaps just seven:¬

  • 1. The driver. 2. the people who designed and manufactured the van and all its mechanical components.. 3. The garage people who performed regular maintenance. 4. The ones who distribute the fuel for the engine and are responsible for transport and delivery. 5. The other drivers on the road who respect traffic regulations. 6. The people constructing the road network. 7. The environment itself who permits people to sustain themselves to be able to do their work.

The seven categories in themselves may be expanded almost infinitely. At the same time, given that we live our life in time and space, the environment remains fundamental to all else. Without the environment, life is impossible.

It's here that I felt that while I choose to ride that van on this particular day, many things had to be in place for me to be able to make that decision. This includes having had a proper breakfast and taking my medication which are individual needs to the wider context, including the social and political atmosphere of my time. For, indeed, while we have a choice over how we deal with our life situations, there are many aspects of our lives including individual mobility, in my case, that are out of our control. In this, it is worthwhile to think and reflect on this reality because it is diametrically opposed to our Western myth of a an independent, or self-made, person.

By acknowledging that we are no one without others isn't, I believe, a sign of weakness. Rather, it's recognising the fact that we are co-dependent beings - that we can't be without others for others provided us with a name and a basic identity.

I may have believed that I didn't have to thank those around me in a proper way. Yet, I now feel that it's important at least to express my gratitude to all those who made living possible and who continue to make living possible.

This is, I think, what being human is all about! 

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