Misinformed, angry, coffee-addled ranting.
Earlier this week, I went for a much-needed haircut, because it’s hard work staying this attractive…What? Fuck off.
Anyway, on my way there I saw one of the shop fronts was having some building work done, and as such there was a ladder leaning across the path against the wall. And lo and behold, several people stepped into the road to avoid walking under it. I will reiterate this: there exist people, on this planet, sharing our precious oxygen, that will happily step into moving traffic rather than walk under a ladder.
Now, in amongst the bafflingly batshit superstitions that exist around the world, walking under ladders is arguably the most rational – it would not be ridiculous to be wary of something falling on you (despite the fact that there was nobody on the aforementioned ladder at the time). However it turns out that the origin of the superstition comes from Christianity, and a belief that breaking the holy shape of the Triangle as formed by the ladder, the wall and the ground would bring bad luck. Seriously.
But this is 2013 and surely humanity is better than this? Apparently not. According to a study conducted by Professor Richard Wiseman, a shocking 86% of British people carry out at least one superstitious behaviour. Granted, that data is from 2003, so it’s highly possible that in the past 10 years a significant proportion of those people have thankfully contracted some hideous and debilitating disease after having forgotten to cross their fingers. We can but hope.
It’s the same with fate. I was recently witness to someone trying to comfort a friend going through a divorce with the phrase “Everything happens for a reason”. Yes, yes it does. That reason is because her husband was shagging his ex, not because of some divine life plan. Saying that this was predetermined is essentially saying “Stop crying, he was always going to leave you anyway”.
I do understand the appeal of being told everything’s going to work out okay. But it’s flawed thinking like this that leads people to stop actively trying to change things and expecting it all to be okay. No, there’s nothing we can do to avoid these things which are all mapped out for us – unless of course you carry a lucky rabbit’s foot or avoid the number 13.
Didn’t get that job you were hoping for? That’s fine, it must be because of that mirror you broke. Nothing to do with the fact you’ve got no skills, no talent, no experience and you accidentally shat yourself in the interview.
The most perplexing thing is how often it seems that the superstitious people are the ones who believe in fate. Surely that’s a contradiction in itself? On one side of the argument you have the belief that everything has been decided well in advance, and there’s nothing you can do to change it. On the other side you have the belief that humans are so powerful and magical, that even something as utterly irrelevant as stepping on cracks in the pavement can have dire consequences.
It’s this bizarrely selfish logic that suggests that we are the centre of everything. Believing that you are so important that the Universe has taken a vested interest in planning out your life, or indeed that the Universe cares whether or not you have a four-leafed clover in your pocket is vastly overestimating your own relevance. There is no all-powerful force determining things, there are simply people. And those people do things and those things cause other things. It’s not a difficult concept.
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. That doesn’t mean we don’t have an input in how we react to them. If you genuinely think throwing salt over your shoulder is going to bring you anything but a well-deserved headbutt from the person sat behind you in the restaurant, the rest of humankind would very much appreciate it if you would politely stop breathing. You’re spoiling things for the rest of us.