In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Justin Bieber was interviewed about his career, his relationships, and his personal beliefs. When asked about his views on abortion, specifically in the case of rape, he was quoted as saying, “Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason.” To his credit, he went on to say that, quote, “I don’t know how that would be a reason. I guess I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that.”
Well, I don’t really know how that would be a reason either. Frankly, I don’t know why anyone would even say something like that. It might just be that he’s young and he doesn’t always have coherent thought processes – not that that’s an excuse. But he’s hardly the first to come up with this mysterious answer. Last January, Republican candidate Sharron Angle took the same position on abortion in the case of rape, saying, “I believe that God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives”. I’m sure we’ve all heard some version of this platitude at some point in our life. Everything happens for a reason, right?
The most obvious issue with this half-baked explanation is how utterly vacuous it is. No matter what happens, there’s always a reason – whether it happens or not! By explaining everything, it explains nothing, because anything that happens – including abortion – “must” have happened for a reason. There’s never going to be an alternative circumstance where we could say, “That wasn’t supposed to happen!” And if there is a reason, what exactly is it? Well, who knows – but I guess we’re supposed to believe there is one!
It’s plain to see that this is just something people say when there’s really nothing else to be said. There’s no explanation because, for some things, there can be no explanation. The real problem is that people think this is somehow reassuring or comforting, when it’s really anything but.
The implications of something like rape happening as part of a greater plan are terrifying. Yes, there is a reason why this happens: it’s because someone decided they would forever mark themselves as a total waste of life by doing something unspeakable to another human being. To suggest that they were part of an overarching cosmic plot where some people are meant to be raped just makes it even worse. Not only are people being assaulted, it was meant to happen!
If there’s supposed to be a reason behind this, does that mean it’s better for it to have happened than if it hadn’t? That’s not much of a consolation to someone who’s going through hell because of this. Do you expect us to feel better about living in a world guided by some ineffable grand design that may or may not be plotting our eventual rape?
Sometimes it’s not worth looking for a silver lining in things. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to try and turn this into lemonade. Because there are some things that should just never happen, and there’s no point to pretending there’s some important reason behind it. You might find this comforting, if you haven’t thought about it too much, but I’d rather live in a cold and uncaring universe than one that’s actively orchestrating this kind of thing. Maybe it would be better if everything didn’t happen for a reason – at least not that reason. So just stop before you say something like this, because if that’s what you would tell someone who’s been through the unthinkable, Justin Bieber isn’t the only one who has some growing up to do.