Monday, 30 January 2012

Tyred out

I bought winter tyres in November. I also bought snow chains and a collapsible snow shovel, all of which fit neatly on top of my spare tyre in the boot. I kind of knew, when I bought them, that the deluge of snow and weeks' long icy weather would not hit us this year, because of course the very act of buying these things was, to be quite superstitious about the matter, to tempt fate to make my purchases unnecessary. (Well almost unnecessary - winter tyres work better than normal ones at temperatures below 7 C and we have had our fair share of low temperatures.)
I am undecided about the usefulness of superstition. Presumably at least some superstitions are built up from a basis of experience, like the wisdom of not walking under ladders! My main reason for being undecided is that it seems on the face of it to be an abandoning of faith in a God who is in control to a set of circumstances which, combined with luck, govern the future. However, we all believe that certain things do govern future events. If I step off a cliff, gravity will decide what happens thereafter. The laws of science just don't seem as irreligious as things like fate and superstition. But if these things, rather like proverbs, come to us from out the fount of human wisdom and experience, then maybe they are more reliable than some of us (me) might give them credit for being. Just because the basis for some of them has been lost in antiquity does not mean that there was not a rational, sensible beginning to them. Of course I wouldn't want to open the door to all superstition with these thoughts, as some superstitions seem now to be plain daft. The one about tempting fate might be a case in point...until we start thinking about it. Usually the reason we make the supposition that we are tempting fate is that we know that the circumstances we are trying to guard against, don't actually strike with the kind of frequency that our behaviour is anticipating, or, we know that the risk we are taking is being done in the face of good evidence that any success will be against the odds. So, behind the irrational seeming thought, there lies a bit more than a grain of truth. So, will I walk under a ladder should there be one in my path today, well, if I did I might be tempting fate....but there again, my experience suggests I'd get away with it, touch wood. 

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