Getting lucky

"Do you believe in luck, whether good or bad?" my friend asked me. She had received a chain letter, which required her to send a copy of it within three days to another friend.

If she did, she would enjoy an upswing in her fortunes; if not, bad luck would visit her. She was not particularly convinced, but wrote the letter anyway. To her delight, many good things happened to her and she began attributing it to the chain letter that she had sent. Then, to her surprise she found the letter she had written lying deep inside her handbag. She had forgotten to post it! It seemed to her now that her good fortune would have happened anyway and that the idea of luck was nothing more than an illusion.

Was she right? The role of luck or fate is a recurring theme in cultures across the world. Two important facts are responsible for this. The first is that heredity is a matter that lies beyond human control. We cannot choose our parents, our innate talents or our physical features. Willy-nilly, they are ours for life. Secondly, everyone's future is shrouded in mystery. We come to know of it only when it unfolds itself. These two together create a situation that arouses fear, the perfect breeding ground for irrational beliefs and false superstitions. Charms, amulets and rituals have been used from time immemorial to counter evil and attract good fortune. In desperate times, they have the power to reassure us and to restore hope. But they also erode our will to stand up to challenge. Worse,they encourage us to blame ill luck for all our misfortunes and to deny all responsibility. We become fatalists who lead empty and meaningless lives.

Good luck alone does not make for success. Fine heredity and environment too are not enough. Very often the reason for lack of success lies within the individual himself. The world is neither a kind nor a predictable place and misfortune spares none of us. The winner is the one who knows what his strengths are and faces difficulties head on, overcoming them and becoming wiser and stronger. There is a quotation that says it all - The harder I work, the luckier I get.

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