Everything Happens for a Reason?

Originally Posted on December 20, 2011 to my former blog, “The Melancholy Spitfire”

At least once or twice a week I hear the phrase “Everything Happens for a Reason”, and I can’t help but cringe each time I do, because I hardly think that the people saying it are aware of what they’re communicating or the pitfalls that accompany the phrase.

If I pressed someone on what they really meant by saying it, they would ultimately say they believe the universe, god, karma, etc., has some sort of master plan for us all and that the things that happen in our life are meant to be.  We are all pawns of the fates right?

Wrong.  I read on Facebook today about a friend of mine who, thankfully, was able to get out of her dead-end job and secure employment in the field of finance, making a higher wage and securing benefits.  The way she announced the good news was by posting a picture of when she had eaten at a Chinese restaurant a few days earlier, with the fortune cookie message being “You will hear pleasant news”.  Apparently she placed this message on the dashboard of her car, hoping that it would boost her chances, and Voila!  She got the job.  Great news for her, no doubt, but she immediately took the success and displaced it to a different power than her own.

It’s sad that, in this case, a good person with a hard work ethic, who happened to get a referral from a friend for the position that was open, has to see the success of getting a job as some cosmic force working for her.  What about all of the good people, with hard work ethics who search for jobs for months or years and nothing comes up?  What about those who become laid off from a great job and end up losing their homes, and possibly end up on the streets –  their entire lives shattered.

The truth is, most things happen to us out of chance, the actions of others, or our own actions.  Period.

I remember awhile ago, Justin Bieber made some comment in Rolling Stone about how Everything Happens for a Reason, including rape.  People were outraged by him including vicious acts in such a cliché, but as far as I’m concerned anyone who says “Everything Happens for a Reason” at all is dismissing reality.  Besides, if you’re going to say it for only good things that happen to people, you should be consistent enough to use the phrase for bad things.  Offensive right?  Sure, I guess… So how about we make it easier on all of us and just never say it?

The girl or guy that you have been waiting for all of your life happened to show up just when you needed it most?  You were searching, and it just so happened that the searching helped you find another someone who was searching – and the sparks flew in just the right way to make you fall in love.  Talk to me in 6 months or 10 years and let me know if that perfect person ended up working out for you.  If “the one” does become your lifelong companion, it’s because you will both have worked at it, were too co-dependent to leave each other, or were one of the small percentages of marriages/relationships that last because of mutual respect and understanding.

Conversely, what about those who are genuinely good people, who never find a mate?  Does that have some cosmic reason behind it too?  I remember being a Mormon and hearing church leaders and teachers discuss that very topic.  The whole focus of the church is families being together forever, and marriage in the Mormon temple was the key factor in that.  Many women wondered what would happen if they couldn’t find a companion in this life, and their answer was that some women are not meant to find their companions here on Earth – being assured that God would find them one in the Celestial Kingdom (highest level of Mormon heaven). The women who don’t find a mate go to church weekly, looking at those with families and wondering what they’re doing so wrong, and it’s sad.  Sometimes people just don’t mesh, most times dates fall apart, and other times there is just too much going on inside to be able to truly handle a relationship.  These are the things that need to be examined when someone is feeling like they’re missing out or not being “blessed”.

The girl who was raped?  That happened because some pedophile who has severe issues decided to take out his need for control on someone more vulnerable and weak than him.  He made the decision to act in that vicious, brutal way because he chose to.  There is no lesson that a victim should have to learn from such a senseless act. There shouldn’t be some sort of retrospect on the part of the victim where they even have to mutter “I’ve been through a lot, but I’ve grown because of it”.  Rape victims don’t grow because of being brutally attacked.  If anything, it leaves a lasting impression on them for their lifetime, and even if they are productive members of society who seem to be fine on the outside, on the inside is a sleeping giant.

That job that you got with the huge benefits package and high salary?  You earned it, have an educational background that fits the job description, or had someone “get you in”. Getting a job these days is largely about networking anyway. It’s about who you know, after all.

But what of the men or women who search for a job for years; pounding the pavement, submitting hundreds of resumes, making follow-up calls after interviews, investing in their appearance in order to make an impression, and yet never get one job offer?  It’s not meant to teach this person humility, persistence or patience.  It may very well do that as a side effect, but the cause is not a cosmic one.  The cause is because hundreds, even thousands of people apply for one job opening, and employers can’t even keep up with resume submissions.  When I worked at a hospital, at the beginning of the current economic crisis, there was an opening for a van driver position – shuttling patients back and forth from the local airport.  The starting pay was $9.25 per hour.  Over 200 people applied for the job, some with Bachelor’s degrees and even one who had a Master’s.  One person gets the job, and the competition is fierce.  Personally, I am thankful I have not had to experience this kind of frustration so far.  I’ve been offered jobs for various reasons – strong experience, longevity at my former jobs, a Bachelor’s Degree, and yes, even referrals.

The child who is kidnapped and miraculously found?  It’s because someone was searching and happened to find them, the kidnapper had mercy, or a combination of both.

What about the child who is kidnapped and is never found? Is that meant to be too?

The family member who has a heart attack and gets to the hospital in enough time for doctors to stop it and make a full recovery?  They detected it early enough and had a phone available to call 911 and get help.

What about the ones who die suddenly, unexpectedly, with no warning.  Is that meant to be? Or was it just poor recognition of symptoms that would indicate a larger health problem.  Were there symptoms that the person outright ignored because they feared going to the doctor?  These are all possibilities.

Cause and Effect.  Actions and Consequence.  The entire human race deals with this daily.  We are only the captains of our own ship insofar as we have no contact with other humans.  Other people’s actions affect us. We only have control over what we choose to do with our lives, and the people who cross our path have choices as well.  Every day we are adding ingredients to a possible disaster or triumph – and unfortunately, sometimes we have co-chefs that were uninvited.  This is reality… and sometimes it bites.  And when it doesn’t?  Well, it was just the right set of ingredients that made the chocolate cake.

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