Right now my book club is reading Christopher Hitchens’ Portable Atheist. And I have also just finished Hitchens’ God is Not Great. So at the moment I am well-steeped in religious philosophies, and especially in the shortcomings, of the world’s major organized religions.
I won’t get into the big stuff right now (like whether God exists), maybe later (just you wait). But I do want to address a couple of things that always seem to get said to me in times of need (and as such seem to fit into the religious space).
One of them is:
Everything happens for a reason.
This is said with absolute conviction. To me this is like saying “your keys are always in the last place you look.” Of course they are in the last place you look because you are not so stupid as to keep looking for your keys once you’ve found them, are you? If you look for a reason, you find a reason. Did it happen for a reason? Or were there consequences of that event that didn’t suck? It’s not very likely that every consequence of an event will be bad. You can always find a silver lining and attach a big pile of meaning to it. So it all happens for a reason, a reason that we recognize after the fact, almost as a justification for an event that we are unhappy enough about to bother to say “everything happens for a reason.”
If you followed me through that then I’ll keep with it…
The next thing people always seem to say, or maybe it’s just Mom (who has a Ph.D in Religious Studies) who says it, is:
We are always where we need to be, learning what we need to learn.
This is patent bullshit. I don’t need to be raped and murdered to learn whatever special lesson that holds. We humans are capable of great subtly and, dare I say it, inference. We can watch someone else go through hell and realize that perhaps we don’t need to go there ourselves. (Well, sometimes, some of us, with some kinds of hell.)
There are some lessons I don’t need. I don’t need my attorney to be shot in the face 2 blocks from my home (yes this happened), it’s not a lesson that’s important to me. I don’t need my husband to be afraid of being kidnapped when we are eating shitty tacos from a street vendor (he is). I don’t need to see yet another street dog that has been killed by a car at high speed and lays, pathetically, in the middle of the highway getting slowly ground to an unrecognizable pulp by the repeated cars that hit it (this happens daily here). I don’t need to walk down the beach and find large quantities of drugs washed up on the shore (I know nothing).
If you think these are lessons worth learning then be my guest, fucking learn them! I think this statement is something that is said by people who don’t have enough lessons under their belts and feel compelled to latch onto whatever lesson passes by (sorry Mom). And maybe, just maybe, there are more lessons to learn when you live in a 3rd world country, where suffering is a common everyday experience.
Thank you, good night and God bless…or whatever.