Author Krista Tibbs

Being the Hand of Destiny

In Commentary, Science, Spirit on March 24, 2009 at 3:45 am


Leading to the election last November, there was a lot of talk about Barack Obama being destined for the presidency this year. If such a thing were being said in retrospect, one could find a number of indications that it was true. But when such things are said in the middle of an election, if it sways people to vote for a candidate because they think he is destined to win, then is it really destiny? Doesn’t that just make it a self-fulfilling prophecy?


I don’t mean for this to be a political post today, so for a less charged case study, let’s take David Cook who won American Idol last year. I’m a fan of his music, so I sneak over to the David Cook Official forum every now and again, and there is usually a thread or two about the fortuitous occurrences that led him to the show, the state of his particular talent and experiences at just the right times, and the momentous fan experiences, all touted as evidence that he was destined to win because he’s meant to do great things in the world. Now, I’m not questioning that David Cook is a decent guy who’d like to do great things in the world, but the interesting thing happening now is that a large number of fans who want him to fulfill their visions are donating to causes that he cares about and volunteering in his honor, which is allowing him to have an influence in a way that he wouldn’t have had if he were not the winner of American Idol. It’s a good outcome, but it’s circular reasoning; it may now be his fate because the voters have made it so, not because it was inevitable.


One might argue that there’s no real distinction between a prophecy that comes true and a prophecy that is made true. But in one case, we are passive participants along for a ride, and in the other, we have an active impact. In the former, people are not responsible for the consequences; in the latter, knowledge matters. My previous posts this week have reached the conclusion that inevitability is rare; information can sway the outcome even in — or especially in — critical moments. (So don’t even get me started on the evils of announcing the winning candidates to the nation before voting is over everywhere, or revealing the identity of an “alleged” criminal while the jury has yet to be chosen…)


I’ll have a post later this week about premonitions and prophecies, but the reality is that most of us don’t know the future. So the best anyone can do is to make sure people who are making the decisions are armed with understanding. I think the best shared understanding comes from outcome models that are based on combined knowledge and history, and I’ll post about that later this week as well. For today, the bottom line is just that we all have a piece of information that could change someone else’s understanding– senators and presidents and fellow citizens alike — because our perspective on the future is based on our own unique set of experiences. So how do you make yours known?








  1. I have had this same type of discussion over a things happen for a reason or stuff happens and people react to it… Well written post. Never been much on destiny, I like to think we are all I control, in one way or another, of what happens to us!

  2. Thanks, Tony. I wish I were more in control than I am, but I can’t really blame it on destiny as much as disorganization. =)

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