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The Tyranny of Circumstance

Updated: Feb 24


A massive, oppressive robot.


More often than not, whether we are ready to admit it or not, much of who we are, the way we interact and view other people, the paths we choose to take in life, and our choices in general, have to do with circumstances. Circumstances affect us in different ways, and they interact with our inherited genetic traits and behaviors. Although people under the same circumstances may develop differently, it is undeniable that circumstances have, do, and will have a certain influence on us, whether we like it or not.


This is why, if you have enemies, much of the antagonism you have with them has to do with the circumstances that led you to interact and view each other in a negative way. If these circumstances had been different, they could have been, or even become, very good friends with you. You might disagree, but if that person, let's say, saves you from a fatal danger, you would not treat them the same way if you were just neighbors with them and realized they were nightmarish people.


Life is like a vertically designed maze, with doors that are not always locked or unlocked. Sometimes they are permanently unlocked, and after a certain event, they become permanently locked. What is certain is that we all move forward in our own mazes, with death being the light at the end of the tunnel. Our deaths may serve as doors for the mazes of other people, leaving some degree of signature on the world.


The maze will continue to exist no matter how many holes we punch in its walls or how many rooms we unlock. Circumstance is a series of walls that never end, surrounding every situation and having a certain, irremovable influence over it, whether it is recognized or ignored.


Circumstance more often than not reigns supreme and cannot be vanished in any way, for any case has a circumstance, and cannot, technically, exist without it. For example, if it weren't for the flowing electricity in my house, I wouldn't be able to write this article and publish it to anyone in the world who also has flowing electricity, or who was able, due to their financial circumstances, to afford an internet-connected device.


Likewise, if many others in the world, who don't have electricity in their homes, nor are able to afford a computer of some sort due to their wealth, were actually able to do otherwise, and if they had the educational privilege of being able to learn and speak an international language such as English, they could have also built websites and written their ideas, and thus some people in the world would have been affected differently by content thanks to a different set of circumstances the original people would have had, and not the ones they currently do.


This is just how circumstances affect us all, directly or indirectly, and perhaps it is because of that many people agree that "No man is an island", not because we're all social creatures, but because we are all bound to circumstance, we are not always able to change, and let alone, implement said change equally, around the world -- and beyond.


We can conclude from this thus far that much of who we are is beyond our control, not only after we are born, but also before, because should our original parents have acted differently in some way with the ability to change who we will be for the rest of our lives (such as having a mentally-disturbed partner, which increases the chances of the child to become mentally-disturbed as well), not only we will act differently under different circumstances, but also, voluntarily or not, affect the next generations, should we choose to bring kids or interact with other kids, which as well could affect the members of the next generations who have yet to be born.


That's the power we have both as the trigger of certain circumstances, and the power we do not have, because much of circumstance is more often than not beyond our control. We are both powerful beings beyond our day-to-day realization, and incapable ones, should some event generate a circumstance we are not capable of removing, or even interacting in any way.

In other words, while we can drastically change the future of our children based on our interactions and partner choices, and thus their own yet-to-be-born children, we are mostly unable to influence events far bigger than us, such as a potential WWIII, a clashing asteroid and so forth, even though some people privileged or certified enough are (medical researchers, presidents, celebrities to a degree and so forth).


As learned in CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and as Viktor Frankl realized during his time as a slave in a concentration camp during WWII, if there's something we are even able to do regardless of what life throws at us, is the way we consciously or automatically choose to respond to external and internal events, giving us, at least, a little spark of power over the inevitable authority of circumstance, even though such skill is hard to master and many of us are not aware or fully aware of it.


It is said in Hebrew that "Thought creates reality", and even though I heavily disagree with that statement, since thought cannot create exactly everything reasonable to exist, it does indeed can change our own perspective on the given situation, thus "changing" reality, or more correctly, our own reception of it, which is a considerable component of experiencing the external world and the way it affects us.

One way to change our reactions to our circumstances is to learn from other people who have different circumstances than our own. For example, you might have your own room and bed, but many people in the world do not have this luxury. Some people still sleep in the same shared place, and some people do not have arms or legs. Others have mental disabilities that limit their ability to function independently.


Knowing about the different circumstances that people face can help us to put our own problems into perspective. When we realize that our problems are not unique, and that other people have faced even worse circumstances, we can start to feel grateful for what we have. This gratitude can help us to change our reactions to our circumstances, and to focus on the positive aspects of our lives.


Of course, not all circumstances can be changed. Some people will be confined to their circumstances for the rest of their lives. However, even in these cases, we can still change our reactions. We can choose to focus on the positive aspects of our lives, and to refuse to let our circumstances define us.


Ultimately, the power to change our reactions lies within us. We can choose to react to our circumstances in a negative way, or we can choose to react in a positive way. The choice is ours, regardless of the forces beyond our control, tyrannical as they may be.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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