on luck

Posting has been patchy lately because I find myself starting up the same pattern that precipitated my recent hiatus — too much to think about, too much to cover here, what to do what to do? I will have to find a better way to cope than throwing up my hands, but for now I just want to highlight this brief but important observation by Rafe Colburn:

One of the biggest mistakes people make in assessing their success or failure is discounting the effect of luck. People prefer to think that they are masters of their own destinies but the truth is that in large parts we are victims of circumstance. Yes, you should avoid problems that you see and make the most of the opportunities that you are presented with, but luck is the main factor. Heck, I was born a white male American with responsible parents who placed a high premium on education. Furthermore, I was born during the period of time when a natural curiousity in computers and the Internet could lead to a decent career. That alone makes me luckier than a huge majority of the people in the world. People are fools not to take those sorts of things into consideration.

Rafe is absolutely right. Failure to take such luck into account is a large part of what makes Republicans. I don’t mean conservatives, I mean Republicans — the modern kind, like Bush Mere: mean-spirited, narrow-minded, empty-hearted assholes with an empathy deficit that would be terminal if there were such a thing as abstract justice. Her son is another perfect, if extreme, example: born into privilege, shielded all his life by that same privilege both from hardship and from the consequences of his own mediocrity, he has nothing but contempt for anyone who does not share his good fortune, which he firmly believes is not fortune but the consequence of his own natural superiority. Less spectacular examples abound; as the spousal unit likes to say, this is why we can’t have nice things.

2 thoughts on “on luck

  1. Re the patchy posting, do you think that maybe a theme would help? Particularly something along the lines of the Followup/Distraction article Kitty put up on delicious the other day — drawing the threads of things you find interesting together with thoughts on how you can act on them?

  2. Maybe. I dunno. I’m thinking of going light on the politics for a while, because it’s just making me sick. I happen to think that’s a reasonable reaction to the current state of US politics, but I’m going to have to get better at passing over the stuff I can’t act on — do what Kitty does: send the letter or donation and then put it from my mind.

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