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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

No Luck

Ides! Egads! Ides means roughly the middle of the month in the ancient Roman calendar. My guess is that the only time the word is ever used or seen is in reference to the Ides of March. Which is today. So – if you’re superstitious – heads up!

The Ides of March is considered a bad luck day by people who tend to irrationality and unfounded fears. This superstition comes from the fact that on this date Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. He was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Senate, the murder accomplished by some sixty conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. It certainly was a “bad luck” day for Caesar . . . but has nothing whatsoever to do with what you or I will experience today.

John Boykin puts it well in his book The Gospel of Coincidence.

There is no such thing as luck. The term is a cute but meaningless verbal shorthand describing results, not causes. Lucky is a useful word to have in the language, but it’s merely a synonym for well off. If you have good luck, you have a pattern of good results; bad luck, bad results. Belief in luck (or fate, destiny, fortune) is the purest form of superstition because it has no basis whatsoever either in fact or theory.

In 1982 someone laced capsules of Tylenol with cyanide and then put them back on store shelves in Chicago. Seven people died after ingesting the poisoned pills. They died not because of fate or God or destiny or bad luck. They died because they happened to need a pain reliever and happened to go to the store with the altered capsules and happened to purchase one of the poisoned packages. Nothing foreordained their deaths. It was happenstance. Scads of incidents – co-incidents – lined up resulting in death, the absence of any one which would have prevented the unfortunate demise. We call it “bad luck” simply as a way of saying we wish it wouldn’t have happened.

My counsel: life should not be guided by irrational thinking and baseless suppositions. Gather the facts, make decisions, and act on them. If it turns out good, then thank to whoever or whatever you direct such emotions. If it turns out not so good, try to learn whatever might be learned, and head into the next day with optimism and courage.

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