TragedySometimes really terrible things happen to good people. What explanations do we typically hear in such cases? In other words, what are some of the reasons we hear when a tragedy—one that...


Sometimes really terrible things happen to good people. What explanations do we typically hear in such cases? In other words, what are some of the reasons we hear when a tragedy—one that produces immense suffering—befalls someone?

Expert Answers
mapriem eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is actually a book called "When bad thing happen to Good People" by Harold S. Kushner. It is religious in terms of how to relate to God and exhibits many suggestions for coping in circumstances that seem inexplicable.  Some of the reasons we hear seem to be based on one's philosphy of life and can vary immensely. Some people believe it is fate and we have no control when something bad happens to us. Others think it is preordained by God. And some people think scientifically how it could have been prevented. And yet depending on your religion and philosophy, some think that everything happens for a reason, and we need to learn from that experience some type of value. It is important to be open minded and remember we are on this Earth a short while and anything can happen, but implementing good judgement, healthy decisions and a righteous lifestyle can help prevent some bad things from happenning to good people.

charcunning eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've heard a few different explanations. Those that are religious believe that God has given you a burden to test your dedication to him--will you still believe in God even when he is punishing you for no apparent reason? This goes back to the story of Job in the Bible.

Also, some people say it's Karma--you did something bad to someone and now it's coming back to you.

I've also heard the "everything happens for a reason" and that what we think of as a horrible tragedy will serve some greater purpose in life later on.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
There is no explanation for tragedy. Unless the person has brought the pain on him or her self in some way, it is just luck or lack thereof. If a person is drinking and gets in a car accident, you can still call it tragedy but it is clear that the fault lies with the person. However if a person is hit by a drunk driver, it's just a sad and unfortunate event.
epollock | Student

There doesn't seem to be any explanation for why bad things happen to good people and why bad people prosper. Natural disasters can wipe out many unfortunate children.  Plague can remove entire populations, and the simplest fall or car accident can scar families forever.

krishna-agrawala | Student

It is as difficult to explain a tragedy as is to explain good fortune. One more thing if all good things happen only to good people, and tragedies befall only bad people, there will be no bad people in this world. Even the meanest people will see the benefit of being good rater than bad, and soon mend their ways.

Some people explain this apparently unfair and rather erratic distribution of good and bad happening in terms of fate. There is lot of merit in this concept, but if you find it difficult to accept in being rational and scientific, you can refer to it by another name well accepted by science of statistics - that is "probability".

Normally I would have considered my above explanations enough to express my views on the subject. But I must also clear a common misconception about the concept of karma mentioned in Post #3. The doctrine of Karma does not support passive acceptance of fate. Rather it does the opposite - it encourages continued efforts (i.e. karma) in face of difficulties and failures. The basic principle do what is the best possible in in view of your designated role in the society and as per your best professional judgement.

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