Caroline Koko: Progress, Significance, Ego & Fate

<< The following content is an essay in our “Student Perspectives” series. The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments on these blogs are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of CARP or any employee thereof. >>


Every once in a while, when you’re alone studying or sitting in a class lecture, you start questioning the purpose of what feels like an endless educational journey. From grades K-12, we learn repetitive, white washed content. Once in college, there is an in-depth consumption and regurgitation of relatively diverse content. Still, many of us associate school with weariness or dullness. Occasionally reflecting on purpose, reason, and existence is a necessity of the heart, the spirit, and the will of a human being. This is especially heightened when you’re a college student under stress. We should never allow ourselves to pursue roads that are purposeless or fail to bring personal self-fulfillment. There are aspects of the world and patterns of mankind that should be filed in our minds as we seek purpose and joy.

First, in matters of relationships and moral conduct, the world has been in need of the same progress but only to slightly lower degrees with the passing of time.

Second, individually, we are an insignificant portion of the grander scheme and functionality of the universe but hold potential to make a significant impact.

Thirdly, our greatest weaknesses stem mainly from our ego or misconceptions of strength.

Lastly, fate is only applicable to deliberate, purposeful living.  

Reach beyond the common standard of goodness.

     Can you imagine yourself living in the seemingly distant past? All of us have at least once thought about what we would do if we owned or stumbled upon a time machine. Think about the way people saw each other in comparison to now. Imagine what you would witness and endure with your 21st century lens and how heavily your conscious would weigh in? Now imagine life 100 years from now. Think about how people would perceive the way we live and treat each other today. Realize that there will be just as much criticism and shade thrown at us. As periods in time become history, we make slight or incomplete enhancements to our tolerance for one another and confuse it with actual moral accomplishment. This may come off as an extreme perspective. You might also be thinking, “well, we shouldn’t place too much focus on the past.” But it’s important to be aware of the issues before our own time and truly understand where and how much progress is needed now and so forth. As long as personal struggle to promote or embody goodness exists within the heart, we cannot believe mankind has reached adequate moral maturity. This should only challenge us to strive for wider hearts, ears, and visions for those around us and go beyond just following the rules and hoping to be liked. We can always be better people.

Strive to make a significant impact

     In relation to the universe and all that dwell within, the significance of an individual is based on the permanent and impactful mark that he or she has manifested before losing physical life. This is completely irrelevant to value. Value is rooted in existence itself and cannot be stripped away by enslavement, objectification or any other degrading inflictions. Diamonds carry value but their role in people’s happiness and fulfillment is little to none. (This is not to say diamonds are equally valuable to human beings.) Individually, human beings are inherently and supremely valuable. Our significance is determined by where we invest our value. Intelligence can be invested in the destruction or contributions to others. Love and power can be invested in vile manipulation or virtuous gifting. The only time history’s villains are given significant attention are when their transgressions went beyond the darkest routes of the imagination and when their actions provide an important lesson about the extent of human nature. On an individual scale, we are small but can still play a big role in the improvement of those around us.

Humility is key to a clear perspective

     Embodying greatness requires the knowledge of one’s brilliance or potential for brilliant work. That may sound senseless. It might seem pointless to say that we need to know we’re great in order to be great. However, we often only realize our potential over time and through overcoming the challenging circumstances that ensue and this can boost our general morale in the struggle to realize personal purpose. It is also important, though, to be aware of our weaknesses. It’s easy to get caught up on our own needs and beliefs and develop mannerisms that feed our ego. Ego is natural. But it is a faulty reaction that sometimes comes from arrogance. As we become more aware of our individual greatness, staying humble keeps our perspectives clear and mindful. Ego is the focus of self. When excessive attention is drawn to the self, our approach to conflict becomes poor and inadequate for reaching real resolutions, ultimately adding to our weaknesses. It becomes more difficult to overcome or repress when perpetuated into our identity. We each have different perspectives and experiences and henceforth should be open to hearing each other out before relying too greatly on our own judgment.

Live with the intention of being great

     Lastly, I have made the claim that fate is only applicable to deliberate living. This stems from my disbelief that someone’s fate could be an idle life. “Deliberate living” was my choice of verbiage because it implies a life of intention. You might realize how much progress the world needs and how small we are as individuals to the universe. Yet, each one of us is capable for greatness. Understanding this makes it easier to see how much intention (i.e purpose) we need in our lives. Never reaching your full potential cannot be fate. Effort as well as the process of endeavor truly determines one’s fate. Failure is only a test of strength and perseverance.

Go be your best self!

     So go to that next class! An education is a perfectly reasonable foundation for building a better version of yourself. Gain some basic tools and enhance your capacity to become a significant member of your community or portions of this world, maybe even its entirety. How would you know if you don’t intend to make it happen? How can you make it happen if you don’t deliberately live to make it happen? And how can it be your fate to never realize this capacity? If no one is offering you a cookie every time you overcome a barrier or fulfill a goal, be your own reward. Your value should not be ascribed to you. It should be exemplified by your own abilities.