Sunday’s Wisdom #69: “To,” Not “Because”

“Everything, all of this, is not happening because of you. It is happening to you.”
– Allanon, The Shannara Chronicles
Season 1, Episode 3, “Fury”

Allanon is a wise and mighty druid, and he says this to a young woman, Amberle, who, up until this point, has been blaming herself for everything that’s gone wrong. She broke a tradition, albeit one not set by any rules or enforced by any laws. She did this because she felt driven to accomplish something, to find her own place in life. However, when something unexpected, awful, and terrifying happens soon afterward, she mistakenly believes it to be her fault, because she went against tradition.

What Amberle doesn’t know is that these bad things would be happening with or without her.

The horrors she is experiencing are not some kind of divine punishment. She didn’t do anything to deserve it, or to earn it, it’s the result of forces far beyond her power to control. She’s a victim, not a scapegoat.

Now, it must be said, there are things we do, choices we make, which invite certain dangers. Small decisions can lead to ridiculously huge consequences. But to suggest that our smallest “mistake” or “deviation” is the cause of the world apparently coming to an end is, at best, highly egotistical. There is a balance to be found between blaming ourselves for everything or taking responsibility for nothing.

When you get down to it, most of the good and bad things that happen to us, simply happen to us, and we don’t deserve either. We can’t control the world. We can only control ourselves.

What matters, then, is not what is happening to us, but how we respond to it.

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