Protecting Our Worldview Part 2: We Want To Be Lord of Our Own Lives

This is part 2 of a series. Find part 1 here.

My parents got married on October 26th, 1985. Besides this being their wedding day, it’s significant because it’s the day Marty McFly needs to get back to in the first Back To The Future movie. If you haven’t seen the trilogy, they are worth a watch. At the end of the series (I promise this isn’t a spoiler), Doc Brown, the scientist who invented time travel, makes this statement to Marty McFly, the protagonist,

“Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”

While just a silly movie, this quote is emblematic of one of the strongest held beliefs and desires in our culture, that we are in control of our own lives. This rhetoric is all around us, and even when aware of it, it affects how we see the world. It’s why this quote resonates with us. We all want to seize control of our lives and create our own destiny – we all want to be the Lord of our own lives.

This desire, however, is built on a bold assumption that we are fit to be the Lord of our own lives, but what if our assumption is wrong?

Recall that last week we looked at how we care more about being right than about obtaining the best outcome. In isolation, this makes no sense, and a simple equation proves it. For this to be logical, the joy from being right would have to outweigh the damage from being wrong, and it obviously doesn’t. Would I rather be right or have the politician I didn’t vote for succeed? Would I rather be right or have a vaccine for COVID that is safe and that works? In isolation, no sane person would rather be right than have these better outcomes occur. This is because, in isolation, there is no recourse for being wrong.

But nothing happens in isolation. If our worldview is built on the assumption that we are qualified to be the Lord of our own lives, being wrong becomes a threat. When our worldview crashes down, so do our hopes and dreams. This threat to our worldview makes being wrong more significant.

It should go without saying that our worldviews are more complicated than I’ve depicted. There are lots of factors and nuance, but at the heart, we’ve built a worldview that elevates ourselves. Instinctively, we know that this is unstable, so we do whatever we can to protect it, but we are only delaying the inevitable.

A wise man once said it’s foolish to build a house on sand – those words still ring true today.

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