One of the phrases that figures largely into the film - one that Merida repeats to herself often and throws out as a challenge it "There is no fate but what we make". The idea is that we, ourselves, are the independent masters and mistresses of our lives. This is not a new philosophy: those of a certain age will remember sitting through"Invictus" by William Henry Henley in English literature class:
"It matters not how strait the gate,
how charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul."
(Ignore for a moment that truly, none of us are the master of our fate because ultimately, most of us die at a time and place not of our choosing. It is a pleasant sort of fiction, but a fiction none the less.)
Turn this thinking on its head to the mad rush of society today.
We - you, I, the individual - are neither able to "make our own fate" or act as "the master of our fate, the captain of our soul". You can, I suppose, if you fall into a set series of channels or "permitted" areas. Beyond those, we are very much not encouraged or supported to make our own fate.
Take, for example, the student of a trade school. They are - perhaps more so than ever - able to make whatever fate they wish because they have skills which, if applied, can take them up the line to a fine career or launch them into becoming a business owner of their own, all without the potential for crippling debt such as crushes so many college students today. But is the path treasured? Is it brought up as a viable option? Sadly, no. The making of their fates, the piloting of their souls, is quietly ignored.
Or take the individual that wishes to enter the agricultural field, or classical Western studies, or philosophy not as a way to deconstruct the currents of modern society but rather as a means of comparing and contrasting modern society with the ancient concepts of what makes a good society and good polity (the original "political science", if you will). These individuals, too, will be told that they should not (or cannot) make their own fates. They will, again, only be supported and embraced if they fall into the channels pre-determined by society as best.
As best for whom? As best for others, as determined by others. The ideal of individualism, of self determination, of being independent, of being truly free to determine your fate and the course of your life is replaced by society's determination of what your best should and can be.
You can see the results, of course. There is no more novel and new entertainment because we have abandoned risk and freedom for acceptability and conformity. Our art is divorced from anything that resembles reality because reality is too common. Our philosophy has become grounded in nothing except the current world because that is the only world that matters. Our theology has become nothing but vain repetitions of the culture around us dressed up with religious trappings. Our thoughts are nothing but - more and more - what we are told to think.
There will be - at least here, there will be - a renaissance of this sort of independent thought and risk taking and making your own fate. But you will not see it in your local media outlet or on your local social media because, much like placing pearls before swine, there is neither reason to nor value in doing so. It will happen between the cracks, under the surface, between those of like minds.
A great resistance and renaissance - a peaceful one, likely without a shot fired - is coming. But those trapped in their definitions of making the fates of others like their own fates, the thinking of others like their thinking, the efforts of others like their efforts - will miss it.