“It is what it is….” is usually said with a stoic shrug. But wait a minute.
This current cliche has a classic history. For tens of centuries it’s been the core emotion [even philosophy] for the world’s populations. Meaning little Me hasn’t much chance against mighty Destiny. From the very first times our primordial ancestors slithered up to land, they sensed they were not in control of their fate up here.
They were forever subject to the will of the environment, the gods, the priests, the kings. It became a pyramid world with us at the bottom. A structure we gradually institutionalized into tribes, states, religions and country clubs. For a very long time we were okay with this. Comfortably resigned to the fact and the fate that something and someone other than us was in charge.
Lets stop right here….!
This attitude is totally counter-intuitive in today’s West. Where at least ever since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment of 500 years ago our species decided: “The hell with simply being a can being kicked down the road of life by forces outside ourselves. The hell with shrugging: It-is-what-it-is!”
These 500 years have been an age of enormous growth and discovery about ourselves. We have learned we may be in control of our own destiny after all, what with all the new knowledge about our mind, our genetics, our sciences, our technologies and the exponentially expanding tools at our disposal. We are a long way from kicked-cans down the road; rather we are masters of the road itself which is currently leading us to the stars.
Now if only we could pause the plot on this high note.
Trouble is we can’t, because its 500-year storyline has bumped into an old problem. It-is-what-it-is turns out to still be true after all…! Enlightened and emancipated or not, we are still more the consequence than the cause of our lives. Most things still remain beyond our immediate control. Call it destiny, luck, fate, karma or statistics, there are still forces in our lives over which we will never have complete control.
History’s most powerful destiny-makers — from Ramses to Caesar to DaVinci to Einstein to Hitler — all ended with the same inevitables we all do. Among their unique glories, the same collective disappointments, failures and death.
The lesson….? Not that life is so tragic so much as it’s so predictable. The real tragedy is when pride fails to accept that. When we refuse to gently shrug: It-is-what-it-is.
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