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Is there anything called luck?

| by Victor Cherubim

( November 29, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian)
In today’s unstable and unpredictable world, it may be right for some of us to think if there is something called, “luck”.

To some observers, you are born lucky. To have been born at the right time, at the right place and in the right circumstance, confers luck. Others accept this premise as the reason for being lucky. Still many others maintain there is no such thing as being “lucky”.

As luck is so elusive, why is it that “people thrive in uncertainty, take the lead in times of chaos, deal with a world full of disruption, take on forces that we cannot predict, manmade, or an Act of God, like the weather, which we can hardly control. What then do we see as the role played by “luck”?

Luck, in my opinion, happens to everyone, every living being. A leader like Nelson Mandela, a social reformer like Mahatma Gandhi, an eminent theologian like Thomas Aquinas or to come closer home, even to a pop group like, “One Direction,” the difference between them and an ordinary citizen, is that they did not depend on luck to “turn them on”. Was it a leap of faith into the unknown that made them change their life plans, that challenged the time, the place and the circumstance, into which they were born, lived and even endured pain and/or pleasure?

Thousands, in fact thousands of millions, are born with “self worth” or have had the ability to achieve self worth, but perhaps, have been mislead, sometimes “conned” or “conditioned”, to be guided in their path in life as part of their fate, their allotted state, as their destiny. This conditioning is very often an excuse for acceptance.

When we examine the lives of men and women, great and small, in any walk of life or in any field of endeavour and compare them to any one of us, we may be able to note one common factor or feature, everyone has had or experienced at some period extraordinary bouts, periods, sequences of good fortune, yet showed an equally “spectacular” inclination to deny its existence or rather to fritter it away. When the time came to execute their “lucky break,” they perhaps, stumbled, were overwhelmed, or even fell down on their expectation. In short, they failed to “grab luck.”

Research has continually pointed out that it was not for “lack of good luck” but for “lack of proper, precise and punctual execution.” Thus the sayings “take luck as it comes”. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is for those who don’t rely on luck.

What can be construed as a “lucky break,” is when “preparation meets opportunity”. In the words of Winston Churchill, “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist, sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Preparation for opportunity

The Presidential election in Sri Lanka could be an opportunity. Are we prepared for the unprepared, the unexpected? Of course, many will say, we cannot change the weather, we cannot we change an “Act of God.” We also cannot change a low turnout; we may not be able to take on all the forces outside of our control. But we can certainly, conduct the election in all manner of civility.

Placed with this challenge, the Presidential election is an imponderable task, nobody can underestimate President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and likewise nobody should underestimate the strength and the will of our security forces and our services to maintain law and order.

It is equally understandable that the Common Candidate, Maitripala Sirisena, has taken on an impossible task. He has in the true spirit of the contest accepted to play by the rules of the game. with the right attitude, to woo the voter on the 8th January 2015.

To quote Nietzsche: “What does not kill me makes me stronger”. It is up to everyone in Sri Lanka to showcase to the world that resilience and not just luck, is the signature of our great democracy.