Luck or Destiny?

Outside of the major topics covered by the Ten Commandments – they that have no wiggle room in interpretation – there are few simple answers to questions in life.

Luck or Destiny? Such a simple choice, right? But I took the better path and did think about it for a while. Would I like to be lucky and say, win the lottery? You bet I would! I’d even deal with the disgusting Worm people who would come out of the woodwork. (Sorry, the money’s all tied up in blah, blah and blah. I’m living on a budget, same as always.) Of course, my subconscious has indignantly reminded me, “You know better than that! Nothing has come easy to you, so you’re not likely to win the lottery, especially when you don’t buy tickets. Duh.”


Is anyone lucky because he was born into a wealthy family instead of an impoverished one? We might all think so until we read sad biographies or the yellow journalism that passes for much reporting all over the Internet. Where is the luck having lies about your private life plastered all over the checkout stands at the markets?

On the other hand, less-privileged families often (not always) have more violent crimes to contend with, more vermin around their homes, worse schools, shabbier clothing, and lower-quality food to eat. Did they just inherit bad luck?


If a person can’t be considered lucky, was it then their destiny to be born into a wealthy family, or into a poor one? Pre-destination would completely cancel out the freedom of choice or “free agency” that we have on this earth. The reason we came to earth, besides to obtain a physical body, was to learn from our own choices and our own experiences. We won’t know why we were born as we were until we return Home.

Calvinist doctrines state that people are predestined for Heaven or predestined for Hell: nothing people do can change their fate. I happen to disagree with that mindset. Unrepentant, nasty people don’t deserve to go to the Heaven most of us believe in, and won’t, not unless they do repent of the horrible things they’ve done. They’ll still be immortal but that’s not the same thing. By the same token, people who’ve spent their lives helping those who want to be helped won’t be going to Hell, whatever your definition of Hell might be. These things are true, no matter what any a priori thinkers tell them.

People Can Climb Out of Early Circumstances

I’m probably close to living proof that lower-income people can climb out of their early circumstances. It wasn’t easy for me to do it and it isn’t easy to stay anywhere near to middle-class status. Since the 2008 housing and general economic crash, most of us are definitely downwardly mobile these days, if we haven’t already lost everything we had in savings.

As just one example of the climb up, it takes transportation to get to classes where job skills are taught, even when classes are free or almost free of tuition costs. People don’t always keep promises to lend a hand. You begin to lose faith in humanity, for a lot of reasons. It may take decades to achieve the education you need. But even a plain old typing class gives a person a leg up on the ladder she must climb. If you can type, you can learn to work with computers at any age. Every walk of life now uses computers, from offices to auto shops, from farms to ships and planes, from emergency response teams to bad weather forecasters.

Use the Library

If you have a library within walking distance, check out the non-profit Khan Academy online for basic instruction on many topics including math, science and preparation for GMAT, etc. The Learn, Partner Content, Projects and Discovery Lab, and other tabs will list topics. There is no charge. Acquired knowledge will prepare the way for when opportunity presents itself.

Inhumane Circumstances

Many millions are born into inhumane circumstances, including daily near-starvation, slavery, sexual abuse, civil war, and other horrific situations. For whatever reason, God gave them special challenges amid terrible suffering. We just don’t know why but we do know God expects the rest of us to speak up, get involved, donate time or money, and do something to help such people! The star-thrower* couldn’t save every starfish stranded on the beach but he helped as many as he was able to throw back into the ocean. The rest of us can do our part to save more.

Luck or Destiny?

So, luck or destiny? It’s really neither. Luck does play a part, as in the right timing now and then. But it’s what you do with the next curve ball heading your way that counts the most. Never believe it’s your destiny to get hit in the head by a curve ball. If you can’t catch it or hit it, then at least move out of the way. Not everyone can grow up to be President of the United States, and most of us wouldn’t want to anyway. There are far more satisfying ways of wielding influence in the world! Just remember to help others you meet on your journey in whatever way you can. Your smile might be the only smile they receive all day, and even something that “small” can be the beginning of better times for them. It will build their self-respect.

*The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley from The Unexpected Universe, published in 1969 by Harcourt Brace. If you decide to read it, be sure to read the complete essay to get the full meaning.

Disclaimer: My blog posts are statements of opinion only. I am not in the business of giving financial, legal, medical or any other type of advice. See Terms of Use and Disclaimer for further disclaimers.

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