Tomorrow we get a new president in the United States. We don’t really know what that means. We do know everything will be different. We just don’t know how it will be different. Kind of like everyday life. We know tomorrow will be different from today. We just don’t know how it will be different.
We do try to predict what will happen. We do this based on past experience. Of course past experience is only partially accurate when it is applied to the future. As the saying goes: you cannot step in the same river twice. Much of what we expect to happen does actually happen, but a fair amount of it does not. This is good and bad. It is scary because we are not in as much control as we would like to be, but it is encouraging because it means things and people do change, and we can work to make things better in the future.
Since we know for sure things are going to change somehow or another, it makes sense to try to construct as much of what we want in our lives as we possibly can. We do not control the world; we do not control circumstances. Sometimes people say we can only control ourselves, but I think that is a little bit too pessimistic. We do have an impact in the world: on other people, on institutions, and on outcomes. We may not be in charge but we are certainly factors in what unfolds.
And if we do have effects, then we have a responsibility to put our efforts towards building ourselves to be able to have constructive effects and to attempt to create effects that we value. Our own growth and well-being are every bit as central and noble a pursuit as our commitment to be a positive force in the world.