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"I have noticed that even people who claim everything is predetermined and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road."
-Stephen Hawking, in his book Black Holes and Baby Universes

Dealing with legal matters is stressful.  Resources and emotions can be strained to the limit.  It takes a lot of courage for people who aren't used to the legal system, to bring their issues and lives to the table in such a public and contentious arena.  And some people may think the deck is stacked against them, so why even bother? What's the use?  So they avoid the legal process entirely.

I'm reminded of various relatives and friends, who, at family gatherings and parties, would start talking about how "we're going to die anyway, so, let's get bombed! Let's have 'fun'(!).  The world's a mess, so just have another beer (or 2 or 3 or 10)!"  And the party and drinking would go on and on.  Such "merriment" in the face of "doom"!  The true doom was the state of their livers and their epic hangovers.  

Also, my dear departed mother, no disrespect intended,  knew she had diabetes for years. She couldn't face the regimen needed to protect herself from the ravages of the disease.   Things like regular exercise, monitoring blood sugar and diet, taking medicines and other self-care were too much for her, after the rigors of raising 10 children.  She was probably tired and sort of gave up, choosing to ignore the danger.  It was like walking into the street without looking first, and she died quite young from the uncontrolled diabetes that caused her kidneys to fail.  It was hard to for me to fathom.

As Hawking points out, most people have the sense to "look both ways" even when they proclaim that destiny is king.  However, its seems like the people I grew up around really let Destiny take over.

So, the topic is fatalism, the idea that we can't control our destiny and therefore would be foolish to try to change things or try to break free of old patterns.  It's a little bit of hopelessness, maybe even depression, learned through generations of hard times.  Perhaps some people get this through a religious sense of "God" in charge, of a Force greater than us operating silently in the backstage of the universe, and we are just bit players with the illusion of control.  I know a streak of this thinking runs through my Mexican-American-Catholic-Indigenous baggage.  It's not uncommon in other peoples, either.

But on the other hand, not all my relatives caved in to fatalistic tendencies.   Remember, to immigrate to the USA, regardless of method of entry, is a complete "take charge" move, one that requires hope and determination to beat the odds and buck the "destiny" of the old world.  I was lucky to know my grandparents, and they were not the party-hearty types. They scrambled to keep working, even in the Depression, and refused self-pity, always keeping their own sense of mastery of their simple worlds of labor and family.  They and their own parents decided NOT to stay in their war-torn country, to be slaughtered or starved during the Mexican Revolution, so they came here and stayed, no matter what it took to do it.

So fatalism can be fatal.  I can give up, or I can keep on "truckin'", as they used to say.  One big foot forward, pushing through the door, risking a stubbed toe or sprained ankle along the way, but moving ahead.  Optimistic, not fatalistic.
-JMR

 


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