Meant to be...or not meant to be? The fallacy of that philosophy
For years, I've heard the belief that the events in our lives are determined by what's "meant to be" or "not meant to be." It seems so simple, and so easy to accept. If something we wish for happens, it's "meant to be." If we hope and pray for something, but it doesn't happen, we're told it was "not meant to be.
Someone I know recently used this phrase, to explain why something in my past that had seemed so right to me went so wrong. Why what had been a happy memory is now a recollection that brings profound sadness.
The happiness I thought for sure I'd find was simply "not meant to be," she justified
I've been told I should just accept that euphemism, and that I'd be happier if I did. Sometimes I wish I could, and release myself from the burden of keeping control of my destiny. To just believe that chance will rule my future, and not even fight it.
But I can't, and I won't.
Because when I'm beseiged with endless claims, and even evidence that supports the belief that things are simply meant to be or not meant to be, I'm reminded of another saying my Dad was fond of using: The only things in life that are certain are death and taxes.
I remember something else, too: when I was little, the only thing that seemed impossible...was the impossible.
And despite the world's best efforts to dissuade me of that naive notion, I still believe it.
So, with all due respect to my friend and colleagues, I don't buy the argument that anything is meant to be or not meant to be. And if you care to know why I feel so passionately disagree with that belief, I'll explain why I reject this notion that everyone else seems to adhere to as gospel truth.
My biggest grievance against the sayings "meant to be" and "not meant to be" is that it's, well, to put it bluntly, an emotional cop-out. It assumes that the events in our lives are inevitable, predetermined by some random force that is completely out of our control. It gives no accounting for the power of choice and free will.
And that belief absolves us of any responsibility for the actions we take, and the consequences of those actions.
It's also intellectually lazy. If one believes something is meant to be, or not meant to be, then why bother even trying to make the world a better place? Would that not be a wasted effort? Indeed, then what would even be the purpose for life, if all we are here for is to simply exist, and never strive for improvement?
I'm not saying that the force of will is enough to always determine an outcome, or that some things we wish for won't be difficult to achieve. Some things we greatly desire can be unlikely to occur, no matter how hard we try. But it's not sheer fate that closes the doors on the future. It's our own hands that do that, not the hands of some invisible force totally out of our control.
It's our conscious choices that determine what happens to us. The future is not on some type of auto-pilot.
Granted, I don't always agree with the choices people make. Some of their choices have hurt me terribly in the past. And while I forgive them, I refuse to believe that they were predestined to make those decisions. Those choices weren't meant to be...they came about because of their own free will.
I would also argue that the belief in something being meant or not meant to be shows a profound lack of faith. Not giving something, or someone, a chance is assuming that we know what's best for us, and rejecting the notion that God might have something better for us than what our narrow vision can see immediately in front of us. Are we so narrow-minded and arrogant as to think we can determine the future better than God Himself? I certainly hope not.
I would also point to history itself as the ultimate repudiation of the notion that all of life is meant to or not meant to be. There are so many examples of people who have disproven that myopic view. Ever hear the expression "If God meant man to fly, He would have given him wings?" The Wright Brothers were told this, to dissuade them from the ridiculour notion that people would someday be able to fly. Remember this, the next time you board a plane.
Elvis was told he should stick to driving trucks, and that he'd never make it as a singer. If he'd surrendered to the belief that he was never meant to be a singer, think about how much poorer our culture would be.
And to give another example close to my heart: when the future quarterback Tim Tebow's mother was told her pregnancy was a danger to herself, she was advised to abort. Her having that child just wasn't meant to be. Yet she defied this notion, and stuck by her beliefs. Imagine if she had listened to conventional wisdom and done what was "meant to be?" Think about how we would have been deprived not only of a talented player, but a man of faith.
As I'm sure you've figured out by now, this is something that's struck a chord with me. I'm sure there are people who disagree with me on this, and I know this article probably won't change their minds. But I ask those of you who are reading this to at least keep an open mind. And ask yourself this: do you really want to believe that your future is determined by some fate that you have no control over, that's totally out of your hand and completely unaccountable for?
Or would you rather believe that you have at least some say-so in what happens to you? That we're here not just to exist and accept the status quo, but that we're here to at least try to make things better, and to always strive to improve ourselves.
I know which choice I will always make. I respect those who disagree with my stance, and am willing to hear their feedback. I will always keep an open mind and heart. Will you do the same?