An American child is born.
His parents are both white. They both have graduate degrees. His parents both come from families of note—society's upper crust. There is wealth involved in the family tree.
Another child is born in America.
His parents are black. Neither have a college degree. Both parents work several jobs to make ends meet and, even then, must rely on public assistance to survive.
The first child may encounter many things in his life but his fate is sealed—not by a Greek god or three mystical witches or some sort of supernatural proclamation—he is a white male from an affluent family in the United States. He will grow up and be forgiven many of his radical mistakes, his chance encounters, his (sometimes) intolerant attitudes and his momentary flirtation with the philosophies of Howard Rourke. His fate is to skate through life.
The second child likewise has an almost insurmountable fate. He will grow up watching television with only broad and unflattering stereotypes of men who look like him. He will be stopped by the authorities for no reason than his skin color. He will be looked upon as less his entire life—unable to get a cab at night, told time and time again to emulate the other child. His fate is a dark and unkind one.
Ultimately, both boys have a similar fate in that from the moment each was conceived, the inevitable clock of Fate begins ticking with one inescapable conclusion approaching second by second. Both, with no regard to the fated privilege of the first or the fated struggles of the second, will cease to exist.
One may deny his fate; the other may escape his but the overwhelming weight of that destiny will still be there as either a squandered opportunity or a series of obstacles to overcome.
The idea that the world operates as a series of chance coincidences weaves a narrative that, because it is all up to chance, nothing we do matters. Chance dictates that our choices do not have impact to shift the balance between joy and regret. Chance rewards the slacker by telling him that nothing he does will affect the outcome and that by buying those Lotto tickets, she has just as much to gain as the next person.
Chance is fun. Chance encourages us to ignore the cultural signifiers and inevitable conclusions people around us will make about how we look, how we dress, how we speak. Chance tells the fairytale that that actor that came out of nowhere to fame and fortune got there by luck or happenstance. Chance spins the story that your choices along the Road do not make any difference in where you arrive. Chance is a lying sack of shit.
Fate motivates. Fate is the hope that there is a reason that one winter you met someone whose presence changed your life for the better. Fate is the belief that the people and experiences along the Road MEAN SOMETHING. Fate is the quiet voice inside your soul that insists that, while you are a leaf in the wind, by shifting your weight this way or that, you can arrive at a destination.
There MUST be an etymological reason those two words are rooted, yes?
- when you discover that thing you absolutely do better than anything else you do and it feels like dancing when you do it? Fate.
- when you meet that person and all the things seem to fit like a Lego and you instantly understand a sense that this person is a Fellow Traveler? Fate.
- when you look at the narrative twists and turns your life has taken and end up exactly where your circumstances were bound to lead? Fate.
Now, don't mistake me. I do not believe for a second that there is some Grand Plan guiding us like a set-in-stone script placed here by some fictionalized Higher Being who somehow looks and sounds just like us. I think that's a horseshit notion created by people who simply didn't have a clue why it rained and wanted to keep their women in line.
Fate IS surmountable. Fate exists as a concept to guide things down the line like a road map. You still get to choose the direction you'll take but the roads all lead somewhere.
Fate is the inevitable outcome if you leave your existence up to chance.