Saturday, January 12, 2008

"It was meant to be"

A friend of a friend had some medical issues she had to cope with, and some co-worker said to her "maybe it was meant to be."

Since hearing this story, I've decided that quite possibly the most offensive phrase in English is "it was meant to be" when said to a person in the face of adversity they're dealing with.

Let's take some examples to demonstrate exactly how absurd it is:

  • You have pneumonia.  Instead of going to the doctor for a basic prescription of antibiotics, you decide your fate was "meant to be" by a higher power and you die. 
  • You score a touchdown and win a game.  Instead of believing that you worked hard and got a bit of luck, you believe this is how it was "meant to be":  God wills you to score a touchdown and the other guy lose the game in a meaningless show of competition.
  • There's no food in the cupboard and your family is starving.  Instead of going to the store, you decide it was God's will that you starve to death.

Actually, let me go back on my earlier statement.  I can't decide if "it was meant to be" is just offensive or pathetic.  There are only two ways to interpret it:

  • The person who says it assumes that you're an idiot who will accept whatever fate is "handed to you" in order to feel better.
  • The person who says it is such a loser that they accept the fate "handed to them", and don't think anything else is possible.

How pathetic and/or rude.  People who say this as a comfort phrase, please stop.  You're not helping.

1 comment:

b said...

The co-worker probably said that for one of two reasons.

1. They didn't know what to say because they are a little awkward and they don't have a stock answer like "I'll pray for you" whenever someone is going through a tough time. They probably remember the exchange and regret it.

2. The medical issue didn't seem like as big a deal to them or they found the person too complainy. They didn't mean to be so tactless but don't really care that much.

In both cases the co-worker probably recounted the story to other people because they found their tactlessness funny or embarrassing.