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~Introduction~ So, the notion of destiny is one that I have always found interesting, due to the fact that my motto “Everything happens for a reason” pretty much reflects this idea- the idea that all things a part of a predetermined causal chain which is leading to something greater than any one of us. I first realised that this tied to MLP after watching Digibrony’s discussion of free will. Digibrony’s videos sparked some ideas in my head. And I also decided to watch Bionicle on a whim one day, which brought about more ideas. That being said, let us begin. ~What is Destiny?~ I feel before we truly dive into how destiny is applied to Equestrian life, it is important to note what “destiny” actually is. In any discussion, it is important to establish definitions early on, to prevent misunderstandings and smooth discussion out. As I normally do in discussion, I start with the dictionary definition: des·ti·ny ˈdestinē/ noun noun: destiny; plural noun: destinies 1. the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future. This is what the dictionary has to say about destiny. It is a causal path which one must necessarily go down. Meaning, you have no choice. But there is another concept which you have no choice in, which is completely separate from destiny. ~Duty vs. Destiny~ This is a distinction which I feel must necessarily be made, because these two things are completely different, yet related, ideas. For anypony who is familiar with the Bionicle fandom, you will know what I am talking about. Duty and Destiny are two of the three virtues. They are interconnected, as opposed to the somewhat isolated virtue of unity. They are concepts which have similarities and differences, but they are so close that nopony who has not dealt with Bionicle would separate them. But to those from within the fandom, the difference is very clear. Duty and Destiny are very similar concepts. Both refer to an aspect of your life path which you have no control over. You have no choice with regards to your Duty and Destiny. This similarity is, I feel, the one that prevents ponies from seeing the subtle, but very important difference between the two. The difference lies in what the terms mean. Duty refers to the specific niche which you are suited to. This is your role in the big picture. This is where you fit in the machine of society. Destiny refers to some grander arc in the story of your life. Duty is very much in the now. It is where you are at as you progress down the path of life. Duties can change, depending on how things around you change. But Destiny refers to the whole plot. It covers a much broader scope than simply doing your duty to society. Your duty is certainly a part of your destiny, and it can even lead directly to the final destination of your life, which is the other common usage of destiny. But your duty is not always synonymous with your destiny. To best illustrate this point, let us actually turn to MLP. ~Duty vs. Destiny in MLP~ To better point out how this distinction applies, let’s cover the notion of cutie marks. Cutie marks are a very shaky thing, in terms of this discussion. They mark what a pony is best suited to do in their life. As such, cutie marks seem to outline a pony’s duty- their role in society. Yet, we see in Magical Mystery Cure that the ponies relate their cutie marks to their destiny. Is this truly the proper use of the term? I would argue that no, it is not. Here’s my reasoning. In most cases in pony society, we see the case where duty and destiny are pretty much synonymous. For most ponies, their sole purpose and path in life is simply to do their duty to Equestrian society. But we do see exceptions to this rule, in terms of the Mane Six, and the Celestial Sisters. In all of these cases, the duty of the character (defined by their cutie mark) has not been their whole path. The Mane Six are united in one destiny. They represent the Elements of Harmony, and their destiny is to be the protection of Equestria from the forces of disharmony. From the moment when they simultaneously received their cutie marks, it was clear that their life path was shared. Their duties all lead them to a common destiny. This is further shown in Friendship is Magic Part 1 & 2. All of the ponies were acting in their duty to make the Summer Sun Celebration happen, but they discovered a greater path which transcends their cutie marks the moment they united in the quest to save the Princess. This is a shining example of the fact that their destiny, while connected to their duty, was not synonymous with it. This is also seen in the Celestial Sisters. Their duty of raising the sun and moon are not their destiny. Their destiny was to find the pony who would learn the power of friendship, to change Equestria forever. To go into headcanon territory for a moment here, I think that the EoH did not work properly for the Princesses because they did not fully grasp how the EoH worked. I think more so that it was just the Princesses’ raw power being channeled through the EoH which made things happen. This would also explain why the EoH did not work the same way for the Mane Six as they did for the Princesses. This is opposed to the use of the EoH being used by ponies who actually emulate the true power of the artifacts. The Princesses were acting outside of their niche when they used the EoH, so they did not function properly, like how a Bionicle wearing the wrong mask cannot use its full power. The Princesses had to find a pony who emulated pure magic, because only such a pony could be the 6th element, and truly understand the EoH. But their first attempts at this failed. Starswirl the bearded and Sunset Shimmer, while good at magic, were simply not destined to understand the EoH. If there weren’t something beyond cutie marks, why couldn’t these other star pupils figure out the EoH? The answer is destiny. Despite Starswirl and Sunset having the duty to serve as ponies who are good at magic, they could not utilise the most powerful magic of all. No amount of knowledge and study was enough. So cutie marks alone do not define a whole pony’s path. There is something more, and that something is destiny. So clearly, there is a distinction in Equestria between destiny and duty, despite the fact that it is unacknowledged. But where does that leave us? ~The Big Picture~ So, we have established that there is a difference between duty and destiny in Equestria. So what? So, it adds a whole new layer to Equestrian society. When you make the distinction between a grander destiny versus a mundane duty, the story has a whole new element of “where will their cutie mark lead them?” or “what great things can we expect from this simple pony?” This distinction also adds to the idea that everypony has a purpose. Even if a pony doesn’t have some grand arc, or big involvement, they still have a purpose. If you simply stick with cutie marks, and that’s it, it kind of removes some depth from the characters. But if you accept that their is something beyond simply pulling a plough, or bucking apples, the whole thing acquires a new level of awe and detail. In summary, the distinction between duty vs. destiny takes us even deeper. It becomes even more clear that in Equestria, everypony has a reason for existing. One point Digibrony makes is that being bound to a cutie mark would, in a realistic situation, result in some ponies just being screwed. But if you accept that there is something beyond the cutie mark, that problem vanishes. It is a very liberating notion when we accept that everypony has a purpose. I don’t get the whole opposition to determinism in our society. Isn’t it good to believe that everypony has a reason for existing? That nothing is without purpose? That is why I love the notions of duty and destiny. It means that there is something more… something beyond us. And when you find that meaning, life just seems so much more awesome. You get a whole new eye for existence. If we accept that all things have purpose, it can breed notions of tolerance and understanding. If we accept something greater, we become a step closer to knowing that existence really is a stunning work of art… With everypony playing their part in the symphony of life, and accepting that everypony has a major role, we come that much closer to a transcendent Harmony, and greater Peace. What are your thoughts everypony? I know this was an enormous waffle, but I had a lot to say. I look forward to reading your ideas and reactions!