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One Writer's Ravings:
A Logophile's Blog
for Language Lovers

You Don't Control Your Destiny

The more that public broadcasting becomes infested with corporate advertising — "brought to you by . . . and by . . . and by" ad nauseam -- the murkier, cheesier, and more nauseating the language of the ads becomes. This morning's emetic batch of corporate commercials on San Diego's schnorrer public radio station, KPBS-FM, included some insipid fluff for Vanguard mutual funds that ended with the words to help you control your financial destiny. Does anything about that phrase strike you as incongruous?

Your destiny, as any dictionary will tell you, is the predetermined, inevitable course of events that influence your life. It's inescapable. It's your lot, your fortune, your fate. You don't control your destiny; it controls you. Did Sisyphus, or Oedipus, or Macbeth, or Romeo and Juliet control their destinies? Did the ancient Greeks consult the redoubtable oracle of Delphi to find out how to manage their fate?

Only in our time of Wall Street charlatans and mountebanks would anyone have the hubris to imagine that one's destiny could be governed. And, given the intrinsic volatility of the stock market, how could anyone — including the oracle of Delphi — presume to know someone's "financial destiny"? Unless, perhaps, the hacks who write for Vanguard are being bitterly ironic by suggesting that everyone's financial destiny is ultimately the same: to cash in our chips and leave this world naked and bereft.

And because I am in the impecunious business of writing and have no "financial destiny" that Vanguard and its corporate brethren would be the least bit interested in, it must have been my destiny to begin this blog with a mini-tirade on a word we all must experience but can never know.
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