“Why do good things happen to bad people?” It’s a question we have been asking ourselves for millennia. When it comes to philosophical or religious questions, one of the big tests for me is the “So what?” test. If the belief makes no difference in how I’m going to live my life or in how I feel about life I don’t spend a lot of time wrestling with it. When it comes to the question “Does everything happen for a reason.” it passes the “So what?” test for me because it’s going to make a huge impact on how I view life and how I react to the things that happen to me. So, now that the question is worth pondering I look at the extremes. “Everything happens for a reason.” and “There’s no reason for anything that happens.”. Life is just a series of random events.”
Let’s first examine “There’s no reason for anything that happens.” because that’s the easier one to deal with. Shit happens. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Let’s assume I adopt this philosophy. “So what?” This answer means the universe or at least what happens in it has little or no meaning. There is no reason for me to believe that what has happened to me necessarily has a lesson or a purpose, so I’m not likely to spend a lot of time grappling with “What can I learn from this?” The easy answer is “Nothing.” and I’m done. This is a valid point of view. The universe certainly looks random, but from my perspective, I don’t see much benefit to adopting this view. All things being equal, it doesn’t have much appeal to me.
Now let’s example “Everything happens for a reason.” Someone or some thing has a plan for my life. Let’s further assume that plan is for my ultimate good. That doesn’t mean that everything that happens will be “good” from my immediate point of view. Shit still happens as in. But, what appears to shit is for my ultimate benefit. Now when shit happens, I have to wrestle with it. I’m going to try to figure out how this is good. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but sometime. I will stick with this, working and pondering to figure out what is the lesson here? Why did this come into my life? The belief that things happen for a reason might lead to the belief that not only did some higher power send this into my life. Maybe I planned this into my life. This belief gives me a sense of empowerment. I’m not a victim. I’ve done this to myself, for my benefit. Not by some action I’ve done. This isn’t punishment. It’s not that I deserve this shit that’s come into my life. It’s that I somehow thought on some level that enduring this shit would make me better, stronger, more compassionate, more loving, more empathetic, something.
I have come to the conclusion that everything, or at least almost everything, happens for a reason. I don’t know how determinate the universe is and how much free will plays into things. I don’t know how you reconcile free will with a detailed plan, but just because I don’t know doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I leave room for some accidents, some variation from “The Plan”, but I think “The Plan” wins in the end, in the big picture. This view brings me a sense of peace even amongst the storm. It brings me hope. It brings me a sense of empowerment. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve. It doesn’t mean I don’t have pain. It doesn’t mean I don’t have remorse. It just takes the edge off of all of those things.
What do you think? Does everything happen for a reason? Is there no reason for anything? Or is it somewhere in between?
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