Another trite phrase on a blurry background photo crossed my feed today. Everything happens for a reason, it said. And I say, your trite phrase is wrong.
Sure, there is a reason for everything. The sun shines because millions of miles away, a star burns, close enough to warm us. The tides turn because of the pull of the moon’s gravity. The seasons change as the tilt of the earth takes each hemisphere closer to the sun in turn. There are reasons for these things.
There are reasons for smaller things too. My cat purrs because she’s been fed. My daughters give me spontaneous hugs because they love me. My partner cares for me because he’s a good man who loves me.
Bad things have reasons too. I was abused because my stepmother was either mentally unwell or a terrible person (I hope for the former). Others were abused for similar reasons.
What do all these things have in common? The reasons for them are not special. There’s no great plan, no deeper meaning.
Every time someone comes out with this trope, I want to scream. WHAT IS YOUR REASON? What sort of holier-than-thou greater power do you think dares to trample all over mankind with no thought for their pain? How does your trite one-liner explain to me children that starve, that are abused, that are terminally ill? How dare you shrink their experience into part of a greater plan?
If a higher power directs all life according to its plan, then it is capricious and cruel, and the plan is deeply flawed. And if there is no more than life with all its perils and pains, then the thoughtless one-liner is irrelevant. More than irrelevant, for it writes off the suffering of the world.