Last week, a 19 year old family member of a good friend of mine was killed in a car accident. No alcohol, no drugs – just a freak accident.
I have been hearing people say things like, “Everything happens for a reason,” “God has his reasons,” “I guess he needed to be an angel, with god, in a better place, etc.” I’d like to address this line of (un)reasoning in a few points.
I completely understand this is a coping mechanism, and I would never challenge a grieving family member who says something analogous – you just go along with it and say something positive. Many times I wish I thought that way because my line of thinking can, initially, seem lesson comforting. However, no one can ever say for sure what the actual reason is. They say that whatever or whoever – or God – is out there is beyond our comprehension and they invent their own reasons. Don’t they get it that they just made it up, and they did not receive a clear reason through a discussion with God? So, this is obviously just pretend thinking to help deal with a horrific situation – everyone comes up with their own reasons.
If there is a reason for something happening, this presupposes that there is a reasoner – or some deity with a plan for humanity. If so, consider the selfish, barbaric, unmerciful, violent deity who would steal the life of an 18 year old kid and destroy the lives of his family just because “he wanted him back” or “he must have some other purpose for Johnny.” In addition, the victim was a great guy and impacted everyone in his life in a positive way – where is the justice for him?
Next, consider you were able to talk to the victim for a moment and say, “You can’t live the rest of your life, pursue a career, build a family, experience love and romance, hang with friends, enjoy your family, see this beautiful world, or use your genuine good nature to better the lives of others around you – just because your death is supposed to have a reason and help everyone else become better people by causing them to appreciate the life they still have” (because this is generally what the “reason” boils down to). If I were the victim, I would feel cheated – it is not fair to him to be robbed of his life just because some deity wants to prove a point to the rest of us.
Think of the mother – God planned for her to have a baby and love that baby more than anything in the entire world, only to purposely destroy that baby and leave her with endless suffering. No mercy.
It is difficult to cope with, but accidents happen and good people die every day. People search for reasons or try to understand tragedies, but there is nothing to understand. We live in a giant grid of circumstance and coincidence – a car accident can happen to anyone at anytime.
We should gain wisdom from a tragedy and remind ourselves to treat one another with kindness and compassion, because we only get one life and today could be our last. We should remember and celebrate the deceased, find meaning from the person’s life and use it to positively impact ourselves and others, and watch the person “live on” through the memories and how he touched his loved ones. This does them at least a bit of justice. But to say there was a reason for the tragedy is not only make-believe, it implies the existence of an evil deity who either causes unnecessary and unimagineable suffering, or sits back with the power to stop it but cares not to.