Some would counter that it is a mere tautology; for, life itself is arbitrary, and the very definition of arbitrariness consumes the conceptual construct of living. Thus does the subject subsume the predicate, and vice versa; or, in this case, the adjective and the noun. But of course it all depends upon how we define both the adjective and the noun.
Do we mean by “arbitrary” that things just happen without a cause, and that there is no “Grand Designer” that intervenes as in the old Greek plays where the expectation of a deus ex machina would always appear to make everything “right”; or merely that we didn’t know, were unaware, and simply the alteration of life’s sequence of anticipated events appeared suddenly and unexpectedly? And of “life”, do we mean in general, or a specific incident, carved out with special significance, from all of the other sequential and incremental compendium of events that aggregate the entirety of one’s consciousness of that which constitutes the “history” of a living being?
Those who believe in an omnipotent being, of course, cannot concurrently hold that life itself is an arbitrary phenomena, unless by that one means merely that one cannot have the same omniscient perspective as the Grand Designer of Fate. If arbitrariness is meant to encompass randomness, and that the universe is a mere series of unanticipated events, then the question becomes: Is it the lack of anticipation, or the randomness of events that constitutes the bulk of arbitrariness?
For, the human capacity to anticipate events unfolding is fairly unlimited. Yes, it takes time, study, research, effort of cognitive insight, etc., in order to engage a process of anticipatory predictability, but that is a price one has to pay in order to subvert the anxiety of the unexpected.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who suffer from an arbitrary trauma of life — another way of describing an unexpected medical condition (for, who in his right mind “expects” a medical condition, unless one is a statistician or a pessimist of the highest order?) — it may be time to consider preparing, formulating and filing an effective Federal Disability Retirement application, to be submitted to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset.
Yes, this too will possess some components of the arbitrary life — as in whether the Federal or Postal employee’s Federal Disability Retirement application will be approved or not; but such arbitrariness can be somewhat controlled by seeking and following the advice of an attorney who specializes in such matters.
For, in the end, part of the solution in tackling the arbitrary life is to anticipate the random events that are unexpected, by controlling those peripheral and tangential issues that increase the odds of predictability.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire