We are brought up to feel in control of our destinies. To believe that how our lives turn out is a direct result of our action. That if we succeed we deserve it and if we fail it is our fault. But neither is true. We are not in control of the vast web of complex interactions that even moment to moment determine the world around us. We are not in control of our our own thoughts (try stopping a thought about pink elephants popping into your head as soon as you read those words). And we are really not in control of the reactions of others to what we say and do.
So in the absence of control how do we respond to life? How do we do the right thing?
Well for a start we need to lose the idea of “the right thing”. Whether something is wrong or right can be a very slippery issue. So often the worst that could happen to us turns out to be turning point in our lives. So often the thing we have spent years working towards turns out to be a disappointment. Even our sense of moral right and wrong is highly conditioned and contextual. Slavery was once legally enforced and opposing it was illegal. Supporting racial segregation was sanctioned by the state and working for its abolition was punished.
So does this mean that we muddle along in an apathetic funk?
No. We work hard at stripping away cultural conditioning and personal baggage. We become hyper aware of our surroundings and what is actually happening, rather than falling for the constant narrative we produce in our heads. We all attempt to react in the moment with as much intuition and gut feel as we can muster.
We know how to do this but have forgotten. It has been trained out of us. We can rediscover how to interact with our surroundings, and each other, in ways that are not ideologically driven or self seeking, that let nature take its course rather than attempt to pervert it.