Opinion: Finding your way

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From birth, we imagine ourselves as a part of a larger world order. We learn that, more than Mom, there are other humans out there. Dad, family and close friends come next. Then, we tentatively find our way beyond the closest circle to know peers, teachers and a plethora of others. All along, our identity is molded in ways both subtle and extreme, recognized and mysterious.    

We come to consider ourselves as a part of the team, or not, of those around us. We eat, live, vote and play very much as we think we should. Some will resist and intentionally seek different. Some will embrace and intentionally seek same. And best of all, some will study and sample to mark a trail all their own. Without regard to our own personal approach, we settle into our own place – and, with that distinction comes all matter of constraints and privileges. We become heirs apparent to our presumptive succession in life. We will become cobblers, as our parents before us. As such, we hold clear expectations, good and bad, of what life will deliver. 

Still, don’t we have choice? Can’t we find a path not worn into a deep rut by our progenitors? Can we be better, or worse, than those before? Social orders come to rely on our commitment to these castes. Bureaucrats, business leaders, clergy and politicians all pass on the family business to their descendants. Still, is the inheritor’s claim legitimate? In politics, for example, can one expect to be the mayor apparent? Or, do all have equal share and access to the desire? Certainly, external factors may constrain our aspirations. Yet, don’t our own self-perceptions most actively curtail what we might be? Who among us should lead? Teach? Provide care? Isn’t the choice ultimately our own?

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