With the election of Trump, I've talked to friends who disagree with him, but retain a belief that it's all part of a greater plan, that it's "meant to be." I have, for many years, disagreed with the "meant to be" perspective, mostly tolerating it, but now, emotions raw, my objections have reached a high boiling point--lid shaking, liquid spilling over the sides.
When people invoke the phrase "it's meant to be," or "it all happens for a reason," or "it's all part of god's plan," it's usually in reference to some personal event:
Meeting someone new: "We met for a reason!" Getting a new job: "Getting this job was meant to be!" Life challenges: "This project has been hard, but it's all part of god's plan."
These kinds of statements imply that there is a cosmic plan guiding everyone's life.
Why do people need to believe there is a reason for everything?
Why do they need to believe it's all meant to be?
Answer: life is complicated as fuck. Everything in our lives: the weather, nature, our health, our loved ones, our life circumstances, our society are products of a complex continuously changing system. To try and understand everything that goes into everything would be the equivalent of spending all our time making elaborate family trees with branches going everywhere tracking how sciences, biology, history, evolution, psychology---basically all the things---contribute to every event, every moment. It would be exhausting and impossible to do this.
So what do people do?
Faced with all the things, there are two options:
1. Acknowledge that we can't know everything at every given moment about everything, and let it go with a sigh. <sigh> The sigh relaxes the core muscles from anxiety. It releases core tension. It slows and relaxes the mind. Then move on to do something else.
2. Acknowledge that we can't know everything about everything. Let it go with a sigh. THEN, imagine that someone else DOES know. Imagine that there is a god-consciousness. Then feel an "ah" of conscious affirmation, and instead of thinking of that "ah" as a core muscle exercise, conceptualize that "ah" as a transcendent event connected to imagined god-consciousness.
The first way keeps a person rooted in the conceptual reality of being a body.
The second way creates a warped conceptualization of reality. In several of my essays, I have challenged the second way of thinking and offered new ideas to explain our deeper experiences. There's a lot to say. It's complicated, but I accept that. With that in mind, I will continue this essay by explaining why I think the belief that everything is "meant to be" is immoral.
If everything is meant to be... If there's a reason for everything... If it's all part of a plan... ...it means everything in this world is exactly as it should be.
Hopefully red flags are waving already.
The rich should be rich. The poor should be poor. The people who are oppressed should be oppressed. The people in pain should be in pain. The people in power should be in power.
In this world of "meant to be," the rules are weird, warped, and toxic:
WARPED RULE 1: The evidence of any person's privilege justifies their privilege. If you are rich, you deserve to be rich. Your being rich is part of a plan. Some god or cosmic consciousness decided that you should be rich. It's meant to be. The more evidence you have of privilege, the more your privilege is justified. People submit to your privilege. They submit to your privilege based on their belief that there is a god/cosmic consciousness controlling everything.
WARPED RULE 2: The evidence of any person's non-privilege justifies their non-privilege. If you are poor or oppressed or suffering, you deserve it. Your non-privilege is part of a plan. Some god or cosmic consciousness decided that you should be non-privileged. It's meant to be. The more evidence you have of non-privilege, the more your non-privilege is justified. People do nothing about your non-privilege. They submit to your reality based on the belief that there is a god/cosmic consciousness controlling everything.
WARPED RULE 3: It's okay to abuse others. If everything "happens for a reason," then the suffering of people who are raped, beaten, killed, starved, is all part of a plan. The evidence of people's non-privilege justifies their life situations. It's "meant to be." This way of thinking justifies abusers to abuse, and asks everyone else to accept, and do nothing.
WARPED RULE 4: Some groups of people are meant to be superior. Some groups of people are meant to be inferior. Say a person has spent the majority of her life thinking that everything is meant to be. By developing this habit of thinking, she develops the belief that her privileged life is part of a plan. Similarly, upon reflection of other people's non-privileged lives, she believes that the suffering lives of others are also part of a plan. Her belief system justifies unjust divisions in society. It justifies extreme suffering. It justifies racism, sexism, classism. It justifies a superiority complex. It justifies Trump.
WARPED RULE 5: Non-privileged should do everything they can to appear privileged.
For people who are not in power, in order to communicate self-worth, they surround themselves with a bunch of stuff to try and show that they have privilege, because evidence of privilege justifies privilege. People buy things, claim people for status, go to church to pray for privilege, and go into debt. And when they can't afford that lifestyle any more, they begin to exercise superiority over other people to show that they do not belong to the camp of "non-privileged."
These are the things I think about when I hear people say "it's meant to be" or "it all happens for a reason" or "it's all part of god's plan." Even if they're talking about simple things like the weather, or a nice moment in life, it doesn't matter. It's all part of a system of belief that contributes to an unjust society. When people say "it's meant to be" I immediately question their morality. I question their maturity. I question their empathy. I question their ability to analyze problems. I think about the implications of their belief system as it applies to society.
Well, I'm not going to let it go anymore. If you say that something is "meant to be"--unless I'm too tired to engage--I'm going to call you on it. Not only do I think it's incorrect, I think it creates a toxic and immoral society. I want people to accept there is no cosmic plan formulated by a conscious being that knows everything. I want people to sigh, accept that they do not know everything, take a breath, raise their chest, engage their gut, and work to make moral decisions for humans as intelligent bodies. Consciousness is a process of body. Humans are bodies. Humans create society.