Prophecies used to be predictions that turn out to be true every time. However hard the hero would try to reverse it, the predicted events would unfold, unaffected by his endeavors.
The revelation of the prophecy would also be quite an event : an old ermit in a cave would announce an amazing event, and since the prophecy was almost impossible to understand, it would spread untouched, word for word.
We still have prophecies today, but they are quite the opposite. They announce regular events and they are not spread through precise words, but rather intangible feelings. They also aren’t particularly truthful. Actually, it is up to the hero to strive to make it true.
We work hard to be married by a certain age, to own a house and have a couple of kids, with bonus points for a dog and a white fence. But are these accomplishments proven to make us happy ? We are seeing that it’s absolutely not the case. And yet, the prophecy is not true : if we don’t do the work to reach this situation, it won’t happen. Why is it, then, that we work for something that in itself gives us no joy ?
We find a sort of joy in putting the pieces of the prophecy together, in creating order from a random situation. Just like a kid does when playing with a shape-matching game. Fulfilling a prophecy is gratifying, because we’ve always been rewarded to do so. All school does is giving us a tap on the back every time we take a random situation and we put it in the expected order (numbers, behaviors, information, …).
But why is the white fence prophecy so powerful ? Does it simply benefit from the pleasure of fulfilling a prophecy ?
The basic ingredients are a home (safety need) and children (love bonds). Let’s take a look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
These two ingredients fill the second and third levels of the pyramid. Then, very naturally, we move up and aim to fulfill the fourth level : esteem. So we take what we have already built and try to receive esteem for it. This results in a ‘happiness race’ and pushes us to get the best house, the best looking family, … We get so confused that we lose sight of our priorities and we lock ourselves up in the pyramid.
Indeed, by trying to always look better in the eyes of other people, we deny ourselves the access to the fifth level : being part of something greater than ourselves. By putting all our resources on this ‘look good’ stuff, we build things that don’t adequately fulfill our level-2 and level-3 needs. And finally, we also jeopardize the security our first-level needs, since we commonly contract debts.
Let’s flip through all the beliefs we each have. How many of them belong to us, and how many belong to society ?