In the last weeks, when my spouse needed help getting around, almost everybody told me it was “meant to be,” and that “there is a reason for everything.” I’m taking a big step outside my comfort zone here, and I’m going to say, “I don’t think so.”
Fuzzy question mark
The “reason for everything” phrase seems to me to be a way to avoid critical thinking, push unexplained events out of the realm of real-world and into the world of religion. And once it’s in the world of religion, it falls into the crack of fate, dusted over by the will of some special god.
I’m a spiritual person. But my kind of spirituality allows for not knowing everything, questioning things I don’t know, and leaves a lot of room for dumb mistakes, personal wrong-doing, evil people and tragic events that are not of a divine retribution or even a divine cause that we are to untangle like a thin-chain gold necklace, till the knots are out and we can wear it again. Wow. That sentence has 68 words, and I teach my writing classes that a sentence should have a maximum of 16 words. Must be a reason for that. See? There isn’t. I just rattled on.
And my spouse tripped over the cat, who was not divinely placed for some larger learning, he was just asleep under the fan.
Now, if those “everything has a reason” people puzzled over what the meaning is, I could understand it. But the phrase has become a way to avoid thinking, to shove the responsibility into a divine realm, where it cannot be questioned. And should not be. And that’s the part I have trouble with.
I don’t want to wander through my life, blindly believing there is a reason for everything but having no idea what that reason is. I want to know. If there is a lesson, I want to learn it. Otherwise, trips happen.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer who teaches writing to companies that are having trouble being heard or making themselves clear. She teaches PowerPoint for what it was meant to do–explain through words and images, rather than bullet points. Quinn is also a life- and creativity coach who helps people through change. She teaches people who can’t draw how to keep art journals.
“God doesn’t give you more than you can bear.”
“If it didn’t happen, it wasn’t meant to be.”
I just don’t believe it. I don’t believe some all-powerful force changes all the traffic lights when you deserve it, and makes them all red when you don’t. I don’t believe an invisible man with a big beard sends cancer down on someone just to prove they can bear it. I don’t think children suffer and die in their parent’s arms because “it was meant to be.” I don’t believe in luck.
That kind of thinking makes a god too much like people, doling out favors to some, denying others. I believe in a bigger power, a god that gave us nature to learn from. Last summer, as the trees in my Washington, D.C. neighborhood died a day at a time because it didn’t rain, I never for a moment believed it was divine will. I believe people who are not using the earth wisely are changing the climate and the trees are warning us. By dying, one by one, until we get it.
I believe we ought to climb out of our SUVs, come out of our climate-controlled houses, stand on our front stoops and sweat. Look around and see what we have done. Humans perpetrated a lot of these things that were not ‘meant to be.’ Suffering that was born of our own making, not given to us to see what we could bear. That would make us not responsible for the stewardship of the earth, and in my simple way of thinking, that is our first responsibility.
Go grab what you have and fix what you can. You might not be in control, but you don’t have to rely on luck, and you don’t have to blame the almighty when things go wrong.
I don’t think people were born to suffer. I think we were born to be creative. I don’t have an answer for suffering, but I don’t think it has a purpose. I think we all die, some of us earlier, some of us later, and it’s good to know that at a young age and be ready. Tell people you love them. Do good. Fight for justice. When you come to the end of your life, you’ll know you’ve spent it well.
--Quinn McDonald is a writer who learns from standing on her front stoop and sweating. Even when it’s cold. (c) 2009 All rights reserved. Image: Journal page from my journal.
Posted in In My Life, Journal Pages, Nature, Inside and Out, Wabi-Sabi
Tagged accountability, free will, luck, meant to be, religion, self reliance, The Secret