Are we masters of our fate?

By Tariro Nyarirangwe
Are we masters of our fate?

Are we masters of our fate?

We tend to grapple with self blame, when we manoeuvre through the tunnels and perils of life and not make it to live our visions. Many  times it has been said that “our choices make us who we are.” Like a game of chess, before each move, the player makes a forecast of the many possible moves as represented by the Shannon number on that sixty four squares board. The moves one makes denote victory or not. Is life entirely like a game of chess? Are our choices really the masters of our fate?

Making  the right choices is important, while we can not forget the fact that the outcome of the game is also determined by the level of abilities of the player’s opponent in addition to their state of mind. Making the right choices is a very small factor in shaping who you are going to be in the future as compared to where you were born, which influences the networks, schools you go to, chances of becoming exceptional in generating a new skill, and your social and economic mobility chances. To whom you are born is a springboard with a tensile strength different from that of the next person. Where you start from has a good deal of influence on how wealthy you get, because it determines where you start, how much financial responsibility you will have in your income-generating years, your spending habits and your wealth accumulation habits. When children are being raised in a home, there are certain songs of “how to live “ that are constantly sung into their ears. The things that you hear everyday become integrated into your neural pathways and shape the way you think, act or react to situations. Smartness and responsibility are not habits that you learn in one sitting but character that develops over a long period of time through the experiences and teachings that you go through as you grow. One can still argue about choices but a fact remains. A ten year old can only make decisions based on the amount of wisdom they would have accumulated at that time. Can we allude a good life outcome to that or we rather give much credit to the parental guidance he or she receives.

The chances of someone legally and ethically moving from abject poverty to wealth in most countries is slim to none. Yes, there are few countries in the world where social mobility is high and with the right choices you stand a good chance of working from poverty to wealth in one generation. A doctor who works for the government  in South Africa can invest in real estate purchasing three houses in low density rich suburbs in a period of ten years whereas one in the neighboring country Zimbabwe may struggle to own at least one decently furnished house in the same period. This however is not the story for the greater portion of humanity. Poverty for most people is a result of where and to whom they are born rather than their own choices. In a game of cards, we all know that winning has little to do with how good you are, especially if you don’t cheat. How many hard working people who on paper have made great decisions, still are poor? This for example pertains to choosing the “right” profession, abiding to laws as well as planning before they execute. In some countries, it is very difficult to function without bribes whereas in other societies, wealthier ones in this case, you can do things the right way and succeed. Two people living in the two different societies can make the same right decision but go on to get different results from it. Are we then only masters of our fate?

If it was entirely up to choices, I would not want my children to grow up in a disadvantageous situation where resources are so limited that they will not be able to reach their full potential. This is because it makes it significantly more difficult to make ethical decisions and do the right things in such situations. Surrounding circumstances become a mounding factor in this case. In some very poor settlements, I have heard of young people as early as nine years old working in mines to earn a living at a time they should be in school, a huge part of that being a result of poverty which sometimes robs you of the  option to do the right thing. My maternal grandfather, born in a family of thirteen children, had to leave school at the age of ten to help take care of his younger siblings.

Last but not least, to say that one’s choices matter is true and extend and the degree of how those decisions will alleviate one’s situation depend on a constellation of other factors. The best way to walk through the journey is to acquire knowledge at each stage. Knowledge is power and what you know will save you the next day. If one is born in a disadvantageous situation, that is not the end of the world. Accept that situations happen to teach you and be ready to learn from that whilst keeping to the good core values bestowed upon you by your family and society. Your vision will guide you to the finished product you wish to become. 

Are we really masters of our fate? 


17 January, 2023