Post # 234      FATE AND FORTUNE (redux)

It was just the other day that a mutual friend introduced us to an attractive, apparently intelligent person. Our initial impression was most positive, at least, until the moment she asked, in a serious voice, for our date of birth. One might safely assume, that at such brief initial meeting, she was not desirous of adding to her gift calendar, but undoubtedly was referring to the P.T. Barnum-like phenomenon, the horoscope. Unfortunately, our initial favorable impression was significantly affected.

William Shakespeare, in his classic play, “Julius Caesar,” speaking through his character, Cassius, in conversation with Brutus, famously states, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” The eternal truth of this admonition was eminently clear to Shakespeare, back in the days of the first Queen Elizabeth, yet still appears to not be fully accepted in our 21st Century.

The ancient Babylonians, in the third millennium, B.C., divided the little known heavens into twelve signs of the zodiac, created accompanying symbols, and assigned to each of them respective date ranges, purportedly, indicative of predictive and analytical information. Surprisingly, many people, even today, persist in the practice of reliably referring to that cosmic calendar for information. They persist in the atavistic belief of its creators, that the sign’s indicated confluence of the position of the planets, at  one’s date of birth, is revelatory, of their personality, and  credible prospects for success or failure. In past writings, we have maintained that, assuming arguendo, there exists some mystic relationship between the date of one’s birth and the contemporaneous location of the planetary bodies [ as fanciful as that assumption may be] the exercise would, in any event, be completely valueless. Indeed, in the 21st Century, we continue to puzzle over the architecture of outer space, even debating the existence of a small icy planet, in our own solar system, called, “Pluto”. Moreover, it was not until the (very grudging) acceptance of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory, in later medieval times, that man was acceptably apprised that the sun orbited around the earth, rather than the other way around [previously the universally mandated belief.] What, conceivably, could have been the extent of the primitive understanding concerning the location of the heavenly bodies, in the third millennium B.C?

We have previously written on the fertile subject of one’s own developed sense of identity and self- image, emphasizing the life-long (inner) “conversation” with ourselves, in the gradual formation of a consistent and personally acceptable persona .As we have stated, it is this latter formulation which governs the responsible nature of our moral choices and actions [ not the primitive concept of rewards and punishment.] One’s mature sense of personal identity defines his nature; certainly not some impersonal, populist, amusement feature.

Socrates taught the vital lesson “Know thyself.” We affirmatively comply with such admonition, by our consideration as to who we sense we are, our recollection of our defining past actions and considered choices; such constituents amounting, ultimately, to our reliably held self-image. This important consideration cannot be conjured up by some public newspaper feature, applicable to an entire anonymous public. Rather, true self- awareness is harvested from a life-time of personal experience.

Predicting the future is certainly hogwash; nonetheless, we can, as a rational matter, endeavor to take such actions, and engage in personally enhancingn activities, as would tend to promote our desired goals.

By its intrinsic its nature, man’s life occasionally presents difficult, equivocal choices. The most effective guide, is to apply his wisdom and his perception of past empirical experience, as the rational basis for making appropriate choices. We are wise not to, irresponsibly, seek easy solutions by consulting readily available, but misleading and unfounded advice, from third party public populist sources hawking horoscopes, trite and overvalued aphoristic formulae, or by the equally judicious practice of coin flipping.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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