I have recently discovered that many of my friends align themselves with the ideas that 1. the movement and trajectory of the stars and planets somehow governs their lives and that 2. everything seemingly happens for a reason. These ideas of theirs tend to come up in varying contexts, but the one that I most frequently hear is in relation to a failed relationship, or in regards to some terrible event that they are currently experiencing and working through. Time and time again, I find myself disagreeing, and having to explain why everything does not happen for a reason.
Saying that everything happens for a reason is an extremely comforting idea; people know that bad things will happen in their world, but they do not know how to understand and come to terms with that idea. That’s because it’s troubling, and it should be. It’s a form of escape; It’s easy, light pseudo-spirituality that allows people the feeling that they’re off the hook. This sentiment is largely a moronic cop out, in that it is meaningless, and a way to avoid responsibility and avoid facing certain facts. We might not necessarily ascribe this to something religious in nature, however, we are still perfectly okay to write everything off as being orchestrated by unseen forces for our own personal, explicit, benefit. The assumption that everything happens for a reason lies under the faulty world-view of a predetermined future in which you have very little control of events that happen around you or that take place in your life. In effect, that statement serves as a type of crutch, where we are allowed to stick our heads into the sand and avoid facing the sometimes harsh reality. It removes all sense of agency, in that by blithely proclaiming that anything and everything in your life happens for some cosmic reason does not make you look sage and self-aware; it makes you seem rather stupid and overly self-indulgent. It makes you look unwilling to seek out or even acknowledge your own culpability in your actions and words.
However, that sense of responsibility, to me, is a much more comforting thought as it allows me to have a greater sense of control over my own life, and my own personal being. It gives me that sense of agency, wherein I am able to decide and make my own choices. The lack of being able to own up to something just allows you to follow the crowd, not really allowing room to think for yourself, and not having that time or space to think can be incredibly dangerous. Anything less than owning up to everything in your life is a direct avoidance of facing the tasks that lay ahead, or working towards improving yourself; it’s changing your mindset to fit the bad state of things to somehow rationalize it and make it better in their heads. And that is a huge problem, because it does not actually address anything; it’s all in their heads.
Of course, there will be certain things in your life that are beyond your control, and sometimes knowing what or why it happened will not give you control over other future events. But, if something does happen, it is your responsibility to find out why. At worst, you’ll be better informed, and at best, you’ll know how to potentially avoid that situation in the future. If we’re lucky, we all have about 100 years on this planet. We should not allow ourselves to become so complacent and brush things off with an easy excuse that everything happens for a reason; they don’t. Sometimes things work out, and sometimes they don’t. We need to learn from our mistakes, and take solace in the fact that in some small way, we will all live a small mark in the world that we live in.