Life isn’t what you make it

As much as we’re told that “life is what you make it”, that phrase could not be farther from the truth. The present life we’re living, wherever we’re reading this right now, is collectively made possible by our parents, teachers, friends, neighbors, bosses, doctors, firefighters, law enforcers, lawmakers, ancestors, founding fathers…..and lastly, ourselves.

Nothing apart from the decisions we make is inherently, wholly ours.

First and foremost, we’re alive today because we were each given a shot at life. We had the support of individuals (biologically related or not), groups, communities, and/or institutions that believed that we — though weak, voiceless, defenseless, even useless — were of value and had rights as members of a just and humane society.

We were cared for, taught the ways of survival, of weathering storms, of overcoming obstacles, defying odds, of discovering and pursuing our passions, until we’re ready to take those training wheels off. We then embraced the independence to carve out our own lives, and the freedom to do as we please. But never at the expense of others, because we remember to love and respect the way we were loved and respected for simply being human. We give others a chance to find their way the way we were given chance after chance.

Let’s consider our own profound indebtedness before we  make judgments about whether someone would be worthy recipient of society’s resources, or make assumptions about whether someone would be able to live a fulfilling life. If one is given the resources that will enable them to overcome and flourish, they will.

The greatest of these resources are love and respect, and the most basic of these is a chance at life. And when they no longer need their training wheels, they will pass them on to those who do. May this be the kind of society, the kind of human race we are proud to be members of.

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Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”   –Malcolm Muggeridge

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15 thoughts on “Life isn’t what you make it”

    1. Yes. Individualism is so steeped in our culture to the point that the “American dream” is not only held as the highest ideal, but stretched to proportions that lead one to worship autonomy and ambition almost regardless of consequences on others. We really need to rid ourselves of the illusion that we single-handedly earned all our privileges.

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      1. It’s both. Life is still what you make it and of course it’s influenced by a million things. ..but it’s you who are in charge of your life, the master of your ship, the captain of your soul.

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    1. Haven’t actually read it (planning to at some point), though I did watch the movie. Does this post somehow remind you of Les Mis?

      P.S. Thanks for checking out my blog! The topics you write about on your blog are also really intriguing to me.

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      1. Very much so. The main purpose of the book was to promote empathy with the lower members of society. Hugo writes that if you can see virtue in Valjean, a prison convict, then you can see it in everybody. You will definitely enjoy it if you get time.

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  1. Very good point here.

    Indeed, “life is what you make it”, is the most preposterous and idiotic assumption. Such a shameless sufficiency…- When I hear those know-it-all people say that, I shudder…

    Great you take this up.

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  2. Very nicely said. I appreciate the courage it took to take on numerous Disney movies that have us completely persuaded that we control our lives and destinies. God controls such things, but it can be uncomfortable to trust Him with our lives and destinies. -Chip

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  3. Karen, the thought here that really resonates with me is that “we remember to love and respect the way we were loved and respected for simply being human”, also echoed in your end quote. I see a society today that holds very little respect for one another. There is so much talk of respect, but it is merely a tolerance for any and all behavior, not genuine respect. Especially, I think, respect for ourselves. We value our right to do as we please to please ourselves, without valuing people. We no longer understand the eternal and intrinsic worth of humanness.

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    1. Lisa, you bring up a really good observation about how “respect” has been emptied out of its true meaning today. We “respect” only to the extent that it makes life comfortable for us. Perhaps it’s because respect has come to be detached from love. I think true respect is inextricable from love and the recognition of the other person’s humanity.

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