We all go though life having many experiences that are, to varying degrees, beyond our control. Different political persuasions often have different takes on how we should understand, consider, reflect on and tackle such situations. A lot of rhetoric is thrown around, from many of these perspectives, at contrasting ideas, opinions or ideologies. Radical and leftist perspectives often try to expose and understand the structural basis of the, mostly negative, implications of circumstances that remove ones control over their own lives. Similar can be said of some libertarian perspectives, even some neoconservatives. A question worth reflecting on is how much emphasis should we place on such structural factors, and when can this lead to not being able to see the trees for the forest?
A serious case of life has (painfully) re‐opened my thoughts on such matters. I was recently in a situation where control over my, and, directly, some of those dear to my, life was significantly out of my hands. It was a very unpleasant situation that I, whilst not wanting to put myself in for a numbers reasons, largely accepted as it was not really a choice. At best it was a false choice — either accept a loss of control for a certain period of time, or be forced to not be in a position to live life as I really wanted for that, or a longer period of, time, and potentially lose that option. Varying degrees of untenability.
We all go through, with varying degrees of intensity, stages of our lives with such choices. Some are rather trivial, some are choices we willing accept for ethical or moral reasons. Others, like the one I am reflecting on, can be quite challenging, painful and distressing. They can lead to further ramifications, foreseen or not, that can have drastic consequences. Mine has, and coming to terms with it will take a long time…
In my situation, in reflecting, I am concerned that I dwelt on the imposed lack of control — to the point that I wholeheartedly regret my subsequent choice(s). I can see how I made that choice. The influx and combined effects that directly resulted from the initial choice to put myself in such a situation. These snowballed over many months, feeding off and building on each other. After a time, the Forest began to overshadow what mattered most — living and enjoying what I had. The tree’s. I lost sight of the there and now, what was of most importance to me. Why I was willing to put myself in such a position.
With the tree’s being overshadowed/lost in the forest of implications emanating from a lack of control, I and/both took the metaphorical trees for granted and did not provide them with the respect and sustenance they required. Whilst hindsight is valuable tool, should we not be more aware — or at least work on becoming so — of that directly around us. What is most important to us. This brings me back to the question of emphasis and responsibility.
There are ways and means, aspects of society, that act to remove or restrict our control over own lives and selves. Not all of these are bad things — many are very beneficial. Are we caught up in trying to challenge the negative ones, focussing on their impacts and, as result, often losing sight and not affording to necessary attention to more important aspects of our lives. What level of responsibility should we accept is a question that does not have one clear answer, and often used dismissively by some libertarians/neo‐cons. Do we sometimes try to deflect responsibility when things are difficult, and defer to notions of restricted control as a straw man or similar?
My specific experience indicates I dwelt too much on the negative, and it had a number of implications that I lost some sight of. Sometimes thinking about the bigger picture is not alway the most fruitful approach. I sincerely hope that what has resulted from my subsequent choices can be overcome and I (again?) have the opportunity to live life as I really wanted. A willingness to try is not always enough…