Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nothing Happens for a Reason

Whenever I hear someone say, “Everything happens for a reason,” I usually blurt out, “Nothing happens for a reason!” Of course, the truth is somewhere in the middle, but I like the shock value of my reply. Granted, the tides do shift because of the relative positions of the earth and the moon. People sometimes do drown because they don’t wear lifejackets. Men in wheelchairs do get all the beautiful women because – I’m not sure why. I’ll have to ask Kim.

The point I’m really trying to make is that not everything happens for a reason. Many things just happen – the good, the bad, the insignificant, and the life-changing. Randomness and unpredictability, like it or not, play a lead role in our lives. This may be unsettling, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

When events work out nicely, which they often do, people are quick to proclaim that everything happens for a reason. But, if that is the case, I ask, “What is the reason for babies starving to death in Africa? What is the reason for women being raped in broad daylight in India? What is the reason for cancer?”

And of course, “What is the reason for multiple sclerosis?”

There is no good reason for any of this.

“Mitch, maybe you got multiple sclerosis so that you could help other people with MS through your blog.”

“If this were true then what was the reason that all these other people got MS? Was it so that I would have people to help?”

Since I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, then what do I believe? Glad you asked. I believe that no good comes from lamenting our bad fortune. Where there is no master plan, no puppeteer of all things, there is no false expectation of fairness in life. There is no asking the question, “Why me?” There is only, “Why not me?” I find this strangely comforting.

So, the next time you are tempted to utter the statement, “Everything happens for a reason,” please consider how that might be taken by folks with chronic diseases. Think what it says about those around the world who lead tragic lives or those who died horrible, senseless deaths. There can be no divine or karmic justification for our worst suffering.

My argument does not preclude the existence of a supreme being. It only rules out a hyperactive God who is intimately involved in everything that everyone does.

If you are curious about my broader position on faith, you can read this previous post.


  1. I'm glad you all liked it. I have to be careful posting this type of material, because it could alienate some readers. But sometimes I just can't help myself :-)

  2. Concur! Correlation and causation confusion.

  3. Darren, you are correct sir! The correlation/causation fallacy is deep-rooted in the human psyche.

  4. Why not me, indeed. It's always been my answer to that question. I am just as good a candidate to have MS as anyone else is my feeling.