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  • Writer's pictureShawna Campbell

The Reasons I Dislike This Saying.

We've all heard it, maybe even uttered this well-meaning comment, everything happens for a reason. After a loss, a divorce, an illness, or a missed opportunity, this gets tossed around like confetti at a wedding.

I do agree with the literal interpretation of this comment; there are reasons. What I don't agree with, is the idea that there's some mysterious, divine plan; a behind the scenes mechanization conspiring to make events just so. Reasons we're meant to be unaware of, creating events that are used for the purpose of cattle prodding us to make a change, or to take up a cause, or to encourage us to go left instead of right.

It's often said to explain the unexplainable, when the reasons are so difficult to grasp or the outcome so painful that we must, as humans do, try to find and create meaning where there is none. Lose a child. Everything happens for a reason. Yes, but no matter what – the reason's not good enough. Someone's killed by a drunk driver. Everything happens for a reason. A family’s home is lost in a flood. Everything happens for a reason. Oh, but the neighbor's house was saved. Everything happens for a reason?


I simply cannot accept that there's any reason that justifies the suffering, cruelty, poverty, and injustice that many people are facing. Not - you'll be stronger, closer to god, find a new career path, meet your partner, move to a new home, or run a marathon –nothing.

I truly hope the reason a child gets cancer, someone is killed by a drunk drive, or that a family loses their home in a flood, isn't so that they, or others can come up with a cure, champion a cause, or start a charity.

The reason shouldn't be a means to an end, but sometimes it can be the end to the means.

The reason something happens isn't so you'll fight the fight, or take up a cause. That's the result! The result of the human need to create meaning, to share what we know, and to forge ahead. We get a result, and we make a choice on how to respond and react based on our values, our needs, and what we want in the future. Sometimes the result is change and growth, changing rules, helping each other, and sometimes, it's not.


It can be comforting to believe that events are part of an unfolding plan, and that there are no mistakes or accidents. It can cause us to see others’ misfortunes, poverty, and illness as part of a larger plan. It can lead us to believe that goodness begets goodness, and evil will get its dues. It can lull us into a sense of, all is the way it should be or needs to be.

I believe individually, and collectively, we either get the results we want, or the reasons we don’t. Reasons are an opportunity to evolve and improve - what can we do differently, how can we adapt, and what have we learned. They aren't happening for us, they are happening because of us.

As humankind we must not wait to understand or have it revealed, we must see reasons not as a mysterious script written in a language we cannot decipher.

Instead we must change what we can, when we can. We must work diligently in the service of justice, and goodness, and fairness, here and now. Reasons and results must be sourced so that solutions can be found, new choices can be made and better actions can be taken.

Everything happens for a reason – passive. Reasons are why everything happens – active.

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