Rise Again

Joelle Ibrahim


People use the words “everything happens for a reason” like it's some sort of predetermined prophecy on why you should accept the unacceptable; they form a circle and say it to each other, condemn the ones who try to protest, as they manifest to themselves “this is not my fault”. 

“Everything happens for a reason?” What does that mean, anyway?

What reason was behind the loss of the people we love? What reason can explain the damage caused, the shattered houses, the tears, the trauma? How can a reason explain the loss of our Beirut?

You probably have your own explanation. Because when you’re sitting in your house, grumbling, you are probably thinking of lots of reasons. We want to blame somebody.

But I don’t think that’s what “everything happens for a reason” means.

If you’re religious and you believe God works in deliberate but nonobvious ways, then “everything happens for a reason” means that there is an unseen force manipulating your life and everyone else’s. This is a trial. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but you can have faith that you will gain something from this trial you are going through.

Even if you are not religious, some people deal with adversity by seeking out the hidden meaning. You become a paraplegic so you can learn to inspire others as a public speaker. You run out of milk and invent a new nondairy cookie recipe.

I don’t buy any of that. All those explanations are based on the idea that there is a hidden purpose in what happens to you, and if you can find the purpose, you can rise above it.

You can believe that if you want, if it makes you feel better. But I just cannot embrace it.

I don’t believe things happen for a reason. If you get cancer, you get cancer. If you get hit by a truck, marry the wrong person, get laid off from your job because of a recession, or lose your city . . . my advice is not to search for the “reason” we got so unlucky.

You want to rise above this problem? Ask yourself what are you going to do about it, how can we help each other, how can we help Beirut rise again.

The explosion happened, and I wish I could tell you, that it's going to hurt like hell for three whole weeks, and then it will be like it has never happened. I wish I could tell you that it’s a one time thing and it’ll never occur again, that we will be protected and safe. But the truth is, six months down the road, when you think it's all over, it's going to come back and hit you. The impact won't be as intense, but oh it will come. Two years, five years, sixteen years, you will come back, you will always come back to this moment, you won't remember exactly what or how it happened, but you will never forget how it made you feel.

So what are you going to do about it?