Editor’s Note: The following is a guest-post by my friend, Omar, who is someone I consider to be a very talented writer. While there are some disagreements in regards to certain details, I pretty much strongly agree with his core argument. Although, I’d be careful not to descend into nihilism.
Almost every day, I hear people uttering a phrase that I can’t help but grit my teeth to: “Everything Happens for a Reason.”
We use it to console ourselves when something goes wrong. Almost like an automatic cooling mechanism that kicks in on an overheating nuclear reactor.
We use it to philosophize our life’s circumstances. And in many cases, it’s the only thing left for us to hold on to (or so we think).
But – regardless of whether you believe in the concept of religion – could this yearning for a higher purpose to everything we do be nothing more than a comfortable illusion?
First of all, let’s identify which definition of ‘reason’ we’re referring to.
If you define reason through a simple cause-and-effect model (such as if you work hard, you’ll reap the results), then everyone can pretty much agree that everything does without a doubt happen for a reason.
The other model, however, is the one I have problems with:
The belief that everything that happens is just a small puzzle piece of a higher power’s master plan.
i.e. if you get in an accident and lose your leg, it’s actually because god planned this for you, and he wants you to learn something from it.
I ask you this question in a tone as inoffensive as I can muster: Don’t you think the latter model is just a tad presumptuous and self indulgent for us as mere mortals to hold on to?
If there is a god out there, I find it hard to believe that he’d micro manage the destiny of every single person, animal and inanimate object on the planet.
It’s easier to believe that he just made us, and put us on autopilot, leaving us to figure things out for ourselves.
In fact, it makes a lot more sense.
If you lose your leg in an accident, it could be because you were careless. Or because another driver was careless. Or because your car malfunctioned.
It could be all of these things, or it could be none of these things. Billions of tiny, seemingly insignificant variables work in unison to determine our fate.
Even something as small as leaving your house 5 minutes late because you forgot your keys could snowball into a monumental occasion, like meeting the love or your life, or yes, losing your leg in an accident.
The question is, why do so many of us invariably end up attributing these variables to the machinations of a higher power?
By our very nature, we struggle to find meaning and purpose in everything, often where there is none.
This may be an extreme example, but some of us worship pieces of toast that bear a passing resemblance to Christ.
But out of the billions of pieces of bread that have been made since the beginning of time, doesn’t it make sense that one of them will eventually end up looking like a bearded man?
Some of us witness extraordinary occurrences like people recovering from cancer, and we call it a miracle or an act of god.
But once again, out of the millions of people suffering from cancer, isn’t it just nothing more than a statistical inevitability that some will survive the disease?
I’m not suggesting you give up your religious beliefs, if any. I’m merely suggesting that we stop looking for reason where there is none, and embrace the freedom that lies within the randomness of reality.
Because ultimately, life is what you make of it.