Inevitability can be omnipotence, not impotence…

OR “How you and I are 100% response-able for Donald Trump’s election

[Note: This article began long ago but was prompted into its current form after I read “On Humanity” by John Gorman and “How Liberals Destroyed Liberalism” by Umair Haque. Great reads — don’t miss them.]

‘Alexander the Great and the Fates’ by Bernardo Mei (Wikimedia Commons)

When people hear the word ‘inevitable,’ they often think of situations that involve them but that happen completely outside anyone’s control — especially theirs. Like natural disasters, death or other parts of life that just ‘are,’ inevitable events are unavoidable, unstoppable and, most often, harmful.

The association between the word and the examples are understandable because the word roots, vitis, viteus and viteo all come from the Latin words referring to ‘vines,’ referring to the intertwining of grape branches. Add the fact that vine branches were easily obtainable and were structurally very resilient, when someone like a Roman Centurion decided to beat someone into submission all they had to do was reach over, grab a branch and begin. The addition of ‘ex-‘ to the word root created exviteo or eviteo, something to shun or avoid — who likes to be flogged, right?

Something that was inevitable, therefore, was something that was not, ‘un-‘ or ‘in-,’ avoidable: unavoidable. By extension, if something is unavoidable we are powerless to do anything to prevent it, right? This creates the understandable link between inevitability and impotency: if we can’t do anything to prevent it, we are correspondingly im-potent — ‘im-/in-/un-‘ or without potency or power.

What if there is another way of looking at it?

We can use this exact moment as an example of something inevitable: right now (whenever this actually is) you (whoever you are) are reading this blog. You neither read it earlier in your life nor later — you’re reading it right now. It took your entire life to be right here, in this right now moment. If you could magically transport yourself back to our conception, or even just to last week, there would be an unfathomable number of variables within you and your environment that would almost guarantee that you would not be exactly as you are in this here-and-now reality. In the truest sense, therefore, there cannot be ANY other place for you — this moment, where you are and what you’re doing are all inevitable. By extension, there can’t be a different US, any of us, in this moment.

Here’s a kicker: Every other moment in our lives was just as inevitable.

Every single moment could not have happened any differently. All the factors of the universe, literally those within us and those surrounding us, came together to shape every experience. Had any one of the factors been even slightly different, the moments would have been different.

Regardless if we were experiencing joy or heartbreak, were learning something new or feeling like we’re a complete failure, if we had a great support system around us or were lost in the woods, literally or metaphorically. Our life has been an unending series of inevitable moments.

Does this mean that we should all don cloaks of nihilism and begin beating the drums of impotency because every moment of our life was supposedly out of our control?

The subtle, but profound, difference between inevitable and uncontrollable?

This may seem to be ‘playing on words’ but it is far from it. As mentioned already, some people equate the inevitable with negativity or powerlessness. Neither of these are, however, firmly embedded in the original concept. A related concept that there are realities behind supposed inevitabilities that mandate how moments are created and governed, leading some to think the moments are unpredictable but others to see them as completely predictable.

The lack of negativity might be easier to conceptualize: Two ‘star-crossed lovers’ may bless the heavens for their inevitable meeting. The same example can illustrate the lack of powerlessness: Their eventual union was based on their unwavering desire to be together, navigating through decades of family trauma and tradition, sneaking around late at night to meet, and facing their own fears to rise above their past. Clearly an example of positivity and power in the supposed ‘inevitable.’

Another less personal example but one that more clearly illustrates the stark realities behind inevitability is that of a watch. The springs, bezel, plates, rachets, arbors, cogs, collars, pinions and hundreds of other parts are carefully engineered to work as a complete system. The accuracy and durability critically dependent on the quality of manufacturing and assembly. Once formed the watch will continue to function exactly as it was made unless something breaks or a major re-engineering from external sources occurs. We could say, then, that the function of the watch is inevitable: it can only work one way because of the specific parts put in place. Yet, its function is far from invincible: give it to a 2-year old and it stands a great chance of not working tomorrow; give it to an engineer and they’ll be able to improve it down the road? Moments of the past, present and future highly, if not completely, predictable.

Our lives during each moment are a function of what brought us to each moment. Nature and nurture, pleasure and pain, courage and fear, what we chose to do and chose not to do. Engineered, if you will, by the material essence of life; crafted by the nearly infinite combinations of potential outcomes of the past into a single point. Statistically impossible to recreate yet probabilistically the most ‘sure bet’ we could ever make. All of the forces we know about have made us, us.

So how does this equate to omnipotency and account-ability?

Every moment we have been alive we have had the chance to choose how to handle each experience — completely controlling the trajectory of our lives. Omnipotency in the broadest sense.

The chance to choose doesn’t mean, however, that we necessarily chose the best course of action. Indeed, oftentimes we may have acted out of fear, limiting-beliefs or hurt that we know were not the best choice, but we felt powerless at the time to do otherwise. The chance to choose also doesn’t mean we had the abilities to choose any differently than we did. Indeed, in each moment we were limited by the panoply of experiences and skills we possessed at the time. Omnipotency doesn’t equate to being omniscient…

Embedded into the potential of omnipotency is, therefore, the need to always act in the most powerful ways we can. Regardless of the outcome, if we did our best we can’t blame ourselves, and neither can others. Again, omnipotency doesn’t equate to being omniscient — thankfully, we don’t have to be. What we need to be, though, is our best in the moment. Anything shy of that is a self-inflicted impotency.

To be humble and grateful for our potential power are necessary, but not fully sufficient, to fully create the life we want — and what is best for everyone. We must realize, fully and without hesitation, that we possess a complete ability to respond to the events — and we do, consciously or not. While we do not necessarily control the events that precede them, meaning we are not responsible for them (i.e., their ‘direct cause’), we do have “response-ability” in each moment: the ability to respond out of 100% choice. No victimhood, no cowardice, nothing but pure control. That power resides within each of us in every moment and no external force can take it away.

Looking back on the events in our lives through the lens of omnipotency should help us see our power — in those moments as well as this one. We cannot change the past moments but they can change us in this one, and help us continue to grow in ways not possible in any other way. Our growth, after all, is inevitable and we control the fates, not the other way around.

Enter in No45 — Whether you voted for him or not… you’re 100% response-able now — like you were back then…

Now when I say we are 100% response-able for Donald Trump’s election I do not mean that all of us proactively supported and voted for him. For sure, many of us were vehemently against him (and still are) and saw him as a coercive so-called leader with little or no integrity, a bully, a self-admitting sexual predator and sex offender, and worse.

With these scathing opinions of him you might ask how I can say I’m 100% response-able now?

Because I and I’d say you, too, did exactly enough of what we did (positive or negative things) to get him elected — because he got elected. Inevitable… Yes, it was inevitable that Trump got elected. On OUR watch… with our votes (real votes or manipulated ones…doesn’t matter in this moment). All of our discussions, debates, protests, threats, violence, gnashing our teeth and beating our breasts led to him being elected. If it wasn’t inevitable, it wouldn’t have happened.

He could not not have gotten elected and we cannot not be in the situation we’re in now. We MUST be in this place for a reason — indeed, we’re where we are now for every reason, and every reason was our doing. This is not to sound ‘deterministic’ or ‘fatalistic’ in that nothing was/is under our control, it is to highlight that we were, and are, in total control.

So…we’re here, now, with the mix of life as it was inevitably designed (by our hands) to be. We can’t change the past yet we can learn from every moment… or not. Either outcome is still our response-ability.

The questions to ask now include things like: What are we going to do with our current reality? How can we learn from the past so we can capitalize on the learning and growth, while seeing whatever unfolds as a never-ending series of inevitable moments? How can we feel peace with the inevitable and empowered by the actions of others?

Please let me know your thoughts — do you agree or disagree? What would you add or delete or change? Comment and keep the discussion going so that we can all grow together?

Neuroscientist, chronic pain specialist, mental/physical resiliency training professional, ultramarathoner & triathlete, philosopher, theosopher and chocoholic.