I’ve been hearing that phrase a lot as of late. I’ve found, in my experience, that typically people use that phrase to try and console someone else in a time of sadness and/or transition.
That is complete bullshit. At least with the intent that most people give that advice.
I know it’s nice to have people who care about you and it’s nice for them to try and make you feel better at those rough points in your life. However, saying that everything happens for a reason (or EHFAR, as I like to refer to it) is no more helpful than saying ‘Sorry, man.’ Semantically, ‘Everything happens for a reason’ should be implied.
Let me give you an example of how this little nugget of advice is useless. Johnny’s girlfriend cheats on him and he’s crushed. She breaks up with him to go run off to Kalamazoo, Michigan in the arms of her new lover and his ’95 Escort. Johnny goes over to his friend Timmy’s house. ‘Oh, I’m so crushed, Timmy,’ Johnny says. ‘My girlfriend cheated on me and left. She took the dog and the Nintendo Wii. I don’t know what I’m going to do, man.’
‘Sorry, man,’ Timmy says, putting his arm around Johnny. ‘Don’t worry. Everything happens for a reason.’
I hope the obvious response to someone saying something like this would be a slap to the face. That did happen to Johnny for a reason. More than likely it happened to Johnny because his girlfriend was a whore. And because she’s a bitter old hag on the inside, she took the dog and the Nintendo Wii. That’s the reason why Johnny is now girlfriend-less, dog-less, and Wii-less.
That’s simple logic. Of course everything happens for a reason. I teach 4th graders about cause and effect and they can grasp that concept. That’s neither insightful or helpful in the least. Instead, try asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ or, ‘Hey, let’s go get a drink and arm wrestle some women at the bar.’ Either of those would make great alternatives to EHFAR.
For the sake of the one you’re trying to console and for the betterment of the English language, the next time you have a friend who’s in a bit of a bind, I’m going to ask all of you to please take it upon yourselves to try and say something more constructive than, ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ We all know it does already.