September 5, 2010

A New Perspective

It pretty much an accepted concept that people are in control of their own destiny. Decisions and choices are enforced completely arbitrarily by the individuals own will, it is totally up to them to decide the direction in which they want to take. Such an attitude is likely to incite a certain amount of frustration when undesirable choices are made. A teacher who sees a good student go off track, a concerned who friend disagrees with their buddy’s excessive drinking, a parent who fears their child has chosen the wrong social clique. These are all examples of frustration arising from the belief that such people are not living their life in the best way they possibly could. 

I’ve recently contemplated the idea that the expectation that people will make good choices is not only unrealistic, but quite simply impossible. If for example, a person is doing an exam, it is likely they will try to the best of their ability. They won’t purposefully make mistakes, yet many will inevitably do badly despite their best intentions. I am starting to think this logic can be applied in almost any arena of life. Let’s say hypothetically that there is a group of people doing cocaine at schoolies week. A girl who has never before in her life tried drugs chooses to under the pressure of the group have a go, and subsequently overdoses. It is undeniable that this was a bad choice, but isn’t it possible that this girl’s susceptibility to peer pressure, naivety when it comes to narcotics and eagerness to exert her newfound adulthood predetermined the choice before it was even made? She probably thought she had a choice when she was deciding whether or not to do it, but if you look at what factors came into this choice, isn’t it logical that when she weighed up the alternatives her innate characteristics would be the defining factor? 

Similar to the test, the girl who overdoses on cocaine has made some detrimental mistakes, but would she have done this intentionally to spite herself? No, she used her personal knowledge and experience and chose what she thought would yield the best outcome for herself. This evidently was not a good result, but not everyone is gonna get 100% on the test.

This has personally helped me rationalise a large amount of the idiocy evident in the world. When a pedophile like Dennis Ferguson reoffends, we aren’t taking into account that his brain capacity is perhaps not capable of teaching himself restraint. If I see a person my age puffing on a cigarette, maybe I’m not considering that they could lack the mental proficiency needed to understand properly the consequences of their actions. In light of this, my standards are decidedly low when it comes to what I expect of the human race. While this may sound despondent, there is a positive. I am rarely disappointed.