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How Much Control Do We Have Over Our Lives?

By , Wilbraham, MA

Christopher McCandless, a young man recently graduated from Emory College, decided that he was going to “disappear for a while” in 1990. The adventure that followed spanned across the United States, into Mexico, and ended in Alaska. A strong advocate for living away from society with as little money as possible, McCandless was heavily influenced by the writings of Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau, two men who were very vocal about the government and the importance of nature. Unfortunately, Chris’ life was short-lived, as he died of starvation in August of 1994 in the cold Alaskan forests. However, his life is a example for many others growing up that dreams are achievable. In a day and age of large government control and social issues, Chris was able to take control over his life and do what made him happy. The son of a stern and controlling father, Chris often clashed with his father due to his independent personality. He eventually became fed up with his shackled life and broke away. Chris is a perfect example of how the individual, in most cases, has as much control over his/her life as their drive will take them. Someone’s drive is, in simple terms, their determination to achieve something. The more drive that someone has, the more determined they are to achieve their goals. Chris’ drive pushed him forward to rebellion and he succeeded in living the life he wanted to live.
   

What about racial issues? Wouldn’t people of different races have more difficulty with control? While it is true that control may be more difficult for someone of a different skin color, religion, or nationality than it is for someone that is, say, white, a person of the aforementioned traits can still be in charge of their life. For example, look at Martin Luther King Jr. He experienced and viewed racial discrimination all around him, but he never let that stop him. With the drive and determination to fight for black rights, he fought through adversity and did what he wanted with his life. There were people out there that did not want to allow King to speak and protest—solely because his skin color was darker than theirs. However, he would not let the constant death threats and racial slurs interrupt his final goal. Imagine having to deal with seeing your friends and race beaten, slaughtered, and butchered. Innocent men hung to die just because they looked different. Families and children left without a father, and racial discrimination to thank for it. It must have taken a heavy toll on him, and he would soon fall to the same unfortunate fate. While King never saw blacks receive the rights they fought for, there is no questioning the determination that he had. He is a perfect example of someone who took control of their life with a strong drive, even though they experienced issues of prejudice.
   

But what about the government? Can’t they stop you from doing certain things? In some cases, yes, the government can limit what you do. But they can only limit someone. In addition, these limitations are only in place to stop people from doing things that are immoral or perceived as wrong by most people. They can’t stop someone from going to college, from protesting for their rights, from living the life they choose. The government’s job is to keep order—not to control what people do. As long as a person’s goal is to do something that isn’t wrong in the eyes of the common man (which the government is supposed to represent), it can be achieved.
   

The phrase “Rags to riches” is a fairly common phrase when talking about famous people with tough backgrounds. How did these “rags to riches” stories achieve what they wanted? As you probably guessed, they all had a certain determination to reach what they dreamed about. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, dropped out of college and worked hard to create his vision. Oprah Winfrey lived a difficult upbringing—one of sexual assault, teenage pregnancy, and poverty—but that couldn’t stop her drive to control and better her own life. There are so many stories of people who persevered through their situations, and they should serve as motivation to people that dreams can come true. Having experienced the need for a drive myself, even my own story is an example of determination producing the results I wanted. After recently coming of an ankle injury, my starting spot on the varsity volleyball team had been taken from me fairly—my teammate had played well enough to earn more playing time. I was demoted to “relief,” meaning that if anyone started to play bad, I would replace them for a short time so they can get a rest. However, I knew that I could earn back my starting spot, and I was determined to do just that. So, when I replaced the player that replaced me one game, I knew I wouldn’t let him replace me again. From then on, the spot was mine. With a powerful drive to work hard in practice and a determination in the game, I achieved my goal of regaining my spot. My personal experience is only one of many instances that reiterate that nothing can stop someone from taking control of their life and doing what they chose, so long as they contain that all important drive to grind ever closer to their dreams.






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