Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

04 February 2007

It Happens for a Reason

"Everything Happens for a Reason"
I hear this said very frequently be people I like, even by people I respect. But this phrase always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The phrase implies a larger narrative into which we all fit—for better or worse—and implies that everything in life serves some larger, greater purpose.

So I was thinking about the phrase on Friday and I thought, "Everything doesn't happen for a reason; everything happens." It occurred to me, of course, that it is impossible for me to phrase my own beliefs in this way. "Everything happens" is not true at all. Everything does not happen. Many, many things do not happen. This means, then, that the phrase "Everything happens for a reason" contains the very same lie. Everything does not happen and therefore everything cannot happen "for a reason." The phrase (that I still bristle at) should more properly be phrased "Everything that happens happens for a reason." When phrased in this particular way, the maxim seems to take on a new meaning—at least for me. It seems to imply, not that everything has a purpose, but that everything has an impetus. Everything happens because someone or something decided it would. With this, I can most certainly agree, as long as that someone or something is removed from the realm of the divine.