Faith & Worship: Get off the wheel of fortune and build a future

Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 10, 2019

I have a close friend who believes that life is a matter of luck. 

He believes so strongly in luck that the license plate on his car reads “lucky me.” He has convinced himself that he can bring good luck by nailing horseshoes to the telephone pole in his front lawn.

In my opinion, he is victim to an age-old superstition that life and living is a matter of whatever comes out way through fate or fortune. My friend believes he has little or no control as to his future other than the magical acts he can perform that might bend the powers-that-be to his will. 

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So far, his horseshoes have not produced the wish for fortune he longs for. He recently lost his job and had to relocate to find employment.  

I would put my friend in the same class with those who read their fate out of the stars, who believe that their lives are pre-determined at birth by the situation of the planets. In either case, “fate” is the operative word.  

In magical terms, they have put themselves on the “wheel of fortune.” I’m not referring to the popular TV game show but rather to the mythical symbol of the capriciousness of fate. 

The Wheel of Fortune originated in Greek mythology with the goddess, Fortuna who randomly spins the wheel of fortune. Those attached to it find themselves constantly changing positions; one day “up,” the next day “down.” 

Regardless of the wheel’s position, their lives are subject to the randomness of its spinning. 

Another species of the same type as horseshoes and horoscopes is the apocalyptic, doom-saying visions that make their appearance in every generation. In this case, fate is sanctimoniously enshrined in holy rhetoric, but the message is the same.

The future is pre-determined, so why bother working for peace or justice?  Why bother trying to do anything at all? 

It is all wasted effort. In the end it’s all going down in flames. 

So let’s all sing “Que sera sera, whatever will be will be.” 

But should we just acquiesce to whatever will be? Should we just give our lives over to external forces beyond our control and accept our fate without putting up a fight?  

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found but made.  And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”  

These words, by John Schaar, offer an alternative vision of the future. A future that we bring forth out of ourselves, regardless of whatever happens on the outside, externally.  We have a choice in how we respond to the capriciousness and randomness of external events that come our way in 2019. 

We can build a future without horseshoes and horoscopes. We can get ourselves off of the wheel of fortune and build a future.

Thermal Belt Unitarian Universalists Fellowship