By: Eden Zorne

credit: Staatliche Museen

Trigger Warning: death 


Does the thought of death terrify you? Do you feel like nothing in your life ever goes right? Has something catastrophic recently happened that you blame yourself for? Does the crushing fear of the future keep you up at night? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, perhaps you just need a new way of thinking, a new philosophical principle. A better way. Forget all your existential dread, and turn yourself over to fate. Become a fatalist, and live your life freely, knowing there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change it. 

Fatalism is the philosophical view that humans are powerless to do anything other than what they actually do. It can be explained by several methods of reasoning, including religion, logical and metaphysical laws, and determinism, but the key concept is that as a human being, you are destined to do certain things and are completely powerless to change that destiny. For example, say that your fate is to drown in a lake. According to fatalism, you have no control over this destiny and therefore will be protected from death in any other circumstances, such as car crashes or illness. Conversely, you cannot avoid this fate by avoiding lakes, because fate will take you eventually and any attempt to outrun it will be unsuccessful. For example, if you somehow learn of your fate to drown in a lake and try to avoid this by never going near a lake, you could be on a flight from Chicago to Toronto, and have the plane crash over Lake Michigan, fulfilling your fate. 

Evidence of fatalism can be found everywhere. Take, for example, a Brazilian woman who made a split second decision to stay home from a nightclub, which ended up catching on fire, saving her life that night. However, 10 days after the nightclub fire that would have surely killed her had she been there, the woman died in a car crash after colliding with a truck. Was this merely a morbid coincidence, or was she always fated to die in that car crash, and was therefore saved from the nightclub? Also, there is the case of the father and daughter pilot duo, who escaped with their lives from a possibly fatal crash in 2007 but were killed four years later in another crash. Both aircrafts were built by the duo and were experimental. Perhaps fate was distracted the first time, and only realized four years later? Or were they meant to die on that particular day? Fatalism can be very helpful to those who feel like their life has no direction or feel they can’t control it. It offers the comfort of knowing that you really can’t control it, and that everything is working out exactly how it’s supposed to. For those of us who need that morbid comfort in our lives, fatalism offers that. Heck, it can even make us braver, since we know that nothing worse can happen. We can put all our faith in the hope that it’s not our time yet and try new and potentially dangerous things. That’s what I found myself thinking when I tried the EdgeWalk on the CN Tower last September. Even though it’s entirely safe, there was always that little voice in the back of my head asking “What if I die here?” And because of my wholehearted acceptance of fatalism, I took the challenge head-on. If I was supposed to die on the CN Tower, then I was supposed to die on the CN Tower, so why not have a little fun while doing it? Better to die in an interesting way than choking on a fish bone in the restaurant or something. So, you see how fatalism can be comforting? Sure, it’s not going to solve the world’s problems, but for those of us who are so beaten down that we need something to assure us that there’s nothing we can do to get out of our situation, why not give fatalism a try?

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