“Well, everything happens…”
“Don’t say, ‘For a reason.’”
“I was just going to say, everything happens.”
–Dr Horrible’s Sing-along Blog
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.
I don’t mean that in the way most people mean it, as an empty platitude meant to offer some comfort when things seem chaotic. The fact that there’s a reason for everything doesn’t mean that the reason is beneficial to me or that it’s working towards some mysterious goal that will better my life or that God is smiling down on me somehow. I don’t even mean to imply that everything happens for the same reason.
Everything happens for a reason, to me, is a statement of causality. There is a cause for every effect. Every action another human being takes can be traced to some motive within them, often influenced by external factors. If I don’t understand something, asking enough questions can often lead to the discovery of that reason and, therefore, a better understanding of the event. If the reason stems from miscommunication or mistaken beliefs on the part of others, often the entire dispute can be resolved just by realizing this and correcting the mistake.
Basically what it boils down to is science as life philosophy. If I don’t know something, it can be discovered. If something happens, it’s possible to discover the cause. Events make sense when you have enough data. My life makes sense, not in the way that “it’s all God’s plan” and somehow every event is leading towards an ultimate goal, not as the plot of a novel, but in the sense that everything that’s ever happened to me has been a direct result of things happening around me. I hurt my foot because there was a trunk where I was trying to walk. My foot continued to hurt for hours because I damaged the toenail in such a way that it sent pain signals through my leg. Backing out a little, there was a trunk in the way because our apartment is too small, and I stubbed my toe because I am clumsy because I have poor balance and poor walking posture. I intend to move to a larger apartment and I’m doing physical therapy for my legs which should include balance exercises. There is a problem, and I have the power to find a solution.
I don’t need some all-powerful being for my life to make sense. It does just fine on my own.
I don’t understand the philosophy “Let go and let God”. Sure, I could meekly submit to the idea that God has a plan for me and tonight that plan involves intense amounts of pain, and tomorrow it includes more pain because I have to walk on the stairs because God designed the building and God put the job offer in my path and God wants me to therefore be in pain every day. But what does that add to my life? A sense of frustration and helplessness. A sense of cosmic unfairness – why does God want me to suffer? Why am I not good enough to be heaped with blessings? Finally, internal torment. What did I do wrong? How have I sinned so badly I deserve a life of pain and suffering? Without God, there’s none of that, just bad genetics inherited from my father and a life of far less physical activity than he had to compensate. Just a problem that I can solve and eventually move on with my life.
And that’s why I’m not particularly religious. The times I’ve been most religious have been, historically, the times when I had the least amount of control over my life: as a teenager, still legally unable to dictate what happens to my own body, unable to provide for myself, unable to escape a bad situation.