• Mariana Trujillo

No, Nothing Happens For a Reason

After something unfortunate happens, we are often told by those who want to comfort us that “Everything happens for a reason”. This is obviously bullshit, but let’s explore why.

I understand that repeating and believing these types of truisms makes life easier. It's comforting to believe that there is something out there looking out for us, that we are not alone. It is very relieving to think that someone is taking care of our lives.

This is especially comforting when something unfortunate happens and it isn’t our fault. It seems harmless to try to substitute a feeling of frustration with a feeling of hope, but it is not. In reality, the premises of this truism are destructive.

If everything happens for a reason free will is an illusion. It is that simple. If everything happens for a reason, that means that you have no power over your life. Something is in control, and it is not you. If it is quantum physics, an entity or even the Illuminati, it doesn’t matter. The key factor here is control. There is something out there with a vision of what should happen to you and it is pulling the strings to make this happen.

If everything is already determined by your destiny, there is no such thing as free will, there is only fulfilling your already established fate. If everything happens for a reason, this means that there is a bigger reason that was previously established by *something* and your only role is to accept your insignificance and try to comprehend all of this.

This evokes the heated debate over Free Will v.s. Determinism. If we follow the premises of this truism, we must assume that everything is already determined and any attempt to change that will be in vain. If all our decisions were already decided, then are we really free? And if we aren’t free, are we really living or just acting a morbid play that was orchestrated by a bigger entity. If free will doesn't exist, then we are living just like Oedipus [1], running away from our predetermined destiny, powerless against the imponent universe.

And there is more. If no one really makes their decisions, then how can we blame them for what they have done? If we were born in their place and faced the same circumstances, we would have done the exact same things. No one is responsible for anything that they have done. Therefore, following this line of reasoning, we can't hold people accountable and we shouldn't praise or punish anyone. There is no accountability.

Actually, there is, but the fault will never be yours. The locus of control is external [2], meaning that the power to control your life and destiny is believed to be external, and not internal. If you don’t get that promotion you wanted, it is because the universe has something better awaiting for you, and not because you are not incompetent. Developing an external locus of control might lead you to is a destructive path, where you don’t feel like the power to control your life is in your hands.

To me, it is clear. When you actually break the truism “Everything happens for a reason” to its premises, most people would disagree with it. The problem is that comforting lies sometimes are louder than sad truths. However, if we repeat them to ourselves enough times, we start to believe, and in this case, we start to lose the sense of accountability and power over our own lives.

1. A tragic hero in Greek mythology, Oedipus accidentally fulfilled a prophecy that he would end up killing his father and marrying his mother (Wikipedia)

2.The degree to which people believe that they, as opposed to external forces, have control over the outcome of events in their lives. (Wikipedia)