Reason to Believe? Reason to Question?


I have a good mind to trust in the fact that things do not happen for a reason. This, despite everything my father has ever taught me. Good stuff would happen. Bad stuff would happen. His response was always, “Everything happens for a reason.” He literally put the kibosh on my investigative, pre-Google era, inquisitive mind.

I tried to grasp this mantra of his around in my mind as a child often, completely unknowing that this was his, and was pure hooey. This was just another way for the sweeper to keep sweeping. I would watch my mother in astonishment from the corner of my eye as she would methodically turn the electric oven in our kitchen on and off for some 45 minutes to an hour daily, ritualistically. “Warm. Off. Off. Off. Warm. Off. Off. Off.” Was there a purpose here that I was missing? Did other oven users do this? Was this behavior described in the manual for best use? Interrupt the ceremony, and it would begin again. Okay, let’s have turning off the oven; TAKE 2—and, ACTION! “Hey Dad, why does she…” “Let her be, everything happens for a reason.”

The front door lock brought a similar practice for her, following the oven. “Click, opened. Click, locked. Click, opened. Click, locked.” I can vividly hear the clicking noise now if I close my eyes. I can see the blank look on her face as she tested that lock without limit. I couldn’t bear to put a time on this this behavior. It felt endless. One evening, after a few too many clicks, the lock stopped working. The emergency locksmith came out that night to fix the overworked doorknob. Once newly installed, “Click, opened. Click, locked. Click, opened. Click, locked.” So the game began again. “Hey Dad, why does she…” “Let her be, everything happens for a reason.”

butterflyTrimming the lawn with scissors, after the landscapers mowed. Raking the carpet after the vacuum left its pattern. Straightening the creases in the sofa pillows after someone sat down. Getting the dust ruffle just right under the bed so that the pleats read evenly. Rearranging the jellybeans in the bowl because someone ate one or three. Hiding the wires from the television behind the leaves of the plants. Straightening our personal desk drawers. Having a trash can in the bathroom that was not to be used for any trash–verboten. These were the things that filled her days. Every day. “Hey Dad, why does she…” “Let her be, everything happens for a reason.”

This response was not saved for just my mother’s mishegas (later known as extreme, undiagnosed OCD). My grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer the exact same week I learned in high school about how cancer begins with improper cell division. “See, everything happens for a reason.” Suddenly, I was terrified to further my learnings about science, health, and biology. Who of my dear relatives would fall next? Was my Nanny victimized to further drive home the point of my father’s absurd refrain? This just could not be so.

The AIDS crisis began in 1981. I had just graduated from high school and this new, terrorizing disease was killing the gay community by the masses. “See, everything happens for a reason.” “But dad, what reason could make this happen? And out came hatred and fear and bigotry. And a greater understanding of the dreck from which he spoke.

politifact-photos-12113317_920729551350503_850292094829865796_oI think now on so many things throughout history, life. Slavery. War. The Holocaust. Terrorism. 911. Racism. Mental Illness. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Aurora. San Bernardino. Oregon. Black lives matter. All lives matter. Ebola. AIDS/HIV. Cancer. Heart disease. Stroke. Hypertension. Driving while texting. Drinking and Driving. Addiction. Chronic pain. Malnutrition. Hunger. Homelessness.

What I have learned was Dad was wrong. He still is wrong. Bad stuff happens. Good stuff happens. Someone, somewhere cannot possibly make these horrid things occur with intention. I have reason to believe that we, as people, are better than that. Oh, and my mom could have been helped with tremendously by medication. Yet she continues, “Click, opened. Click, locked. Click, opened. Click, locked.”

Zie gezunt. They should live and be well.

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Reason to Believe

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