Clarification: When I write, I don't prepare or organize my ideas, I just write what I would say if I was talking to you in person, so sometimes my blogs end up a little messy. I don't even proof-read what I write before posting it so you may find grammatical mistakes and poorly written sentences. Sometimes I'll read my blogs a day or two after publishing them and I may re-write things that weren't too clear and any embarrassing grammatical mistake. Also, English is not my first language, so I apologize if reading my blogs become a struggle. Of course, if this is the case, I would imagine you wouldn't continue reading.

Aug 8, 2014

Everything Happens For A Reason Indeed

I keep hearing the expression "everything happens for a reason". People who have jumped on the "forced positivism" bandwagon love to repeat it whenever something bad happens to them or someone they know. I understand what it means, which is that every experience that you go through is meant to teach you something or in some cases, it was something "designed" specifically for you and it will probably connect to a future event that will turn the negative experience into a positive one. However, I think the expression is a little ambiguous, or perhaps even incorrect, but English is not my forte, so I can't be certain of that.

I think when people say "everything happens for a reason", what they really mean is "everything has a purpose", and there is a difference. Let me illustrate what I'm saying with an example (this is not a true story, but I'm sure someone, somewhere, has gone through a similar experience in the past):

One cold rainy morning I woke up late for work and in the rush of the moment I snap my finger with the door of my car and break it. It hurts like a motherfucker and instead of going to work I have to drive myself to the emergency room while yelling all kinds of profanities on the way there. I call work to explain what happened and they inform me that I have been laid off. Great, now I'm really fucked. That night I talk to a friend who says "don't worry, everything happens for a reason". What does that mean?

"Everything happens for a reason" means that there was a reason for what happened to me, and indeed there was. The reason was that I'm a dumbass and I wasn't paying attention and closed the door of my car a little too quick. There's no mystery about that, that was the reason.

Now, many years after that incident, during a very cold winter, my car breaks down and I decided to knock at the door of the house right across the street from me to ask for help. My hands were in my pocket, but the finger that I broke many years ago was hurting too bad because of the cold weather, so I pull that hand out of my pocket and this piece of paper comes out and falls on the floor. It was an old note that aunt Consuelo wrote me when I was a kid about the dangers of talking to strangers. I take that as a sign, and decide not to ask for help to the people living in that house, and I call my friend instead. Months later, I discover that the people living in that house were actually fucked up murderers responsible for the deaths of many people, and that had I knocked on their door I probably would have been murdered too. I think about it and put all the pieces together: breaking my finger saved my life! That event (breaking my finger a few years ago) had a purpose, or so my friend tells me.

That's the difference. The reason I broke my finger was because I'm a dumbass, and its purpose was to save my life.

Now, while it's true that breaking my finger saved my life, there are many other factors that don't stand out as much that have as much credit: my aunt Consuelo writing the note, me forgetting that note in the pocket of my pants for many years, having poor hygiene and not washing my pants ever, my friend not ignoring my call, and so on. It really is no more mysterious than a sequence of every day events that together could be seen as a freak coincidence, rather than an invisible hand causing me to break my finger because this will save my life later on. If it really was some kind of mystical force the one responsible, then it must have come from a big asshole, a big almighty infinite asshole. Seriously, because it certainly didn't have to put me through all the shit and misery I went through after breaking my finger to save my fucking life. Preventing my car from breaking down would have been a lot easier, and it wouldn't leave me with the feeling that I was being used as comic relief to a mystical and infinitely bored supreme entity.

And I'm not even talking about the situations that can't be linked in any way to anything positive or life lesson to anyone at any point in time. It's really too easy to claim that everything happens for a reason when you live a privileged life where your biggest problem are things like breaking your finger and losing your job, that you can overcome without much struggle. There are situations that are so fucked up, that it almost makes me angry when people try to justify them with a possible positive outcome that "appears" after arbitrarily linking events from an infinitely large pool to choose from, when in reality, there's nothing positive about some experiences.

Real positivism acknowledges the bad and its influence, forced positivism denies it.

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