To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Friday, July 10, 2015

Was reading this intriguing article on how the English language is losing all simplicity and sense, by George Orwell. (What would he say to the use of English in today’s times, I wonder!)

Here’s an excerpt that particularly arrested my attention, though I have to admit that it was less due to the English language lesson there and more owing to the substance.


Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”


I have often wondered about “chance” or “fate”, and spent many blog posts brooding about it (my readers(!) would testify to it ;) ). I was struck by this reference from the Bible because I believed that most of the tangible or intangible “rewards” one aspires for today, and in the context of allocation of which one usually dwells on “fate”, so to speak, have all been manufactured in the recent centuries. Now, it seems to me that even though the needs and aspirations in olden times were far more basic or simple, be it bread or be it winning the war, they were still distributed in a way that demanded calling out “fate”.

Strangely, another recent article that made me think around this subject was from the World Economic Forum, titled, Is it possible to measure inequality of opportunity? It brings up an “academic” perspective. The point it makes is, that there is a difference between “inequality of opportunity” and “inequality of outcomes”. While aiming for equality of opportunity is a good thing, akin to “levelling the playing field”, trying to create an equality of outcomes is undesirable, almost defeating the whole purpose. Inequality of opportunity has to do with things not in our control or our “circumstances” but the latter has to do with our own “effort”, and who would argue against the fact that we should be rewarded for differing levels of effort? But, wait a minute! Here is where it gets interesting. Are our “outcomes” in life simply based on different levels of effort, assuming an equality of opportunity? What about “luck”, which is the word used in this article, or indeed “chance” or “fate”? For example, what about innate talent and would we call that a part of what goes into “effort”? But if we do not, do we risk giving the not-so-talented a leg up and encouraging mediocrity? …

Well, I guess the main point is that, “circumstances” and “effort” are quite interconnected, and while one does not want to discount the relationship between effort and outcome, one must bear in mind that there is more to outcomes than pure effort, and that “more” may be called “luck” or “fate” or “circumstances” or whatever you will. “Equality of opportunity” may not guarantee an “equality of outcomes”, after all.