Saturday, November 19, 2011
Following up on what I wrote about a couple days ago on life being statistical in nature, one of the implications is the shear importance of your starting conditions. In other words (or a singular word), birthright. What, who, where we are born into is arguably the single biggest determiner for where we will live, the education we will receive, what we will do, and ultimately the direction our lives will go. Take note that I said "single-biggest" and not "singular" or "only" as many factors influence our lives, but our starting conditions, this birthright we all receive (for better or worse), influences every part of our subsequent lives. Yes, you have free will in a philosophical sense (or at least I believe we do and our social systems are built on that premise) and can make choices as we see fit, but there is an inescapable influence our past has on our lives. The notion that we are all created equal as stated in the Declaration of Independence, while a nice ideal, is patently ridiculous. In a legal sense, yes, such equality is theoretical achievable but even then there will always be some who are more equal than others (and there is of course the rest of the world to consider). But in a realistic sense, people are obviously born into different situations, whether it be about money, health, or location. Obviously, our respective birthrights do not need to dictate the exact course of our lives. During our life journeys, it is possible to both rise above (and fall below) the achievements of most others who start with similar circumstances. However, the starting condition of that journey strongly influences the likelihood of how high or low you go. This notion deeply undercuts the idea of a "self-made man" and the individualistic nature of achievement to which many people subscribe. Yes, achievement is possible, but in many ways, it is also probable.