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Utilitarianism vs Fatalism: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Accept Life

Updated on April 5, 2014

We may have free will, but sometimes it doesn't feel like we do. Many college students work in retail to pay off their loans; some never move on from there even after their debt is clear. This is not entirely their fault nor the educational system's fault. Rather, retail jobs reflect our needs as a society. If you find yourself in such a position as I have, you must learn to embrace it and be the best employee you can be even though retail isn't what you wanted in life.
We are a society of consumers. As such, jobs in retail are in high demand, particularly during times of high consumption and due to the high turn-over rate of staff. Despite the rise of online purchases that has caused some chains to close their doors, storefronts with human personnel are still necessary for in-person purchases. For example, clothing stores are packed during the holidays, and grocery stores are packed around the first of every month. This also applies to warehouse positions for those online retailers, as people need to box and ship the consumable goods.

Jeremy Bentham, father of utilitarianism.
Jeremy Bentham, father of utilitarianism. | Source

Utilitarianism - The ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. (
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." (Spock, Star Trek II: Wrath of Kahn)

Fatalism - The philosophical doctrine that all events are predetermined so that man is powerless to alter his destiny. (
"Blame your fate!" (Kratos, Tales of Symphonia)

Fatalism is also described as an acceptance of fate because it can be no other way. However, this viewpoint is rather depressing and has led to many suicides. Utilitarianism, at the very least, presents a silver lining to these situations that you cannot change. While you didn't get what you wanted, you are being useful to others and reaping the benefits of employment. In the strictest sense, utilitarianism requires you to be entirely selfless, as every action would need to be weighed against the common good. However, we must not live our lives by committee or let popular opinion rule our choices. In the case of not becoming what you wanted to be when you grew up, it isn't wrong of you to have desires of your own; nothing is stopping you except circumstance.
The truth of the matter is that life almost never turns out the way you want it to, and utilitarianism makes that okay. As long as you believe you are working for the greater good and for the sake of the many, you will choose utilitarianism over fatalism. It will keep you sane and help you sleep at night. We do have free will, and happiness a choice. We can choose to say, "I wanted to be X, but instead I am Y, and that's all right because the powers that be need me to be Y right now."



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    • Rafiq23 profile image

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 years ago from Pakistan

      Great hub Sarah Anderson! I agree with you that utilitarianism makes your life easy and protect you from disappointment and depression.


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