We’ve all probably heard someone say that he or she doesn’t believe in coincidences. Every time I hear that I find it annoying because it’s a stupid comment.
I just heard it again recently when Jeremy Bash, a former CIA chief of staff, was asked about the Russians hacking the Democratic National Committee’s e-mail a day after Donald Trump said, “Russia, if you are listening, find Hillary Clinton’s missing 30,000 e-mails.” Bash responded, “I don’t believe in coincidences.”
What he’s saying is that what might appear to some as a coincidence of events was really a matter of cause and effect. But does that mean Bash thinks there is no such thing as coincidence? That’s a good question, and I think if he would really think about it, he would concede that there is indeed such a thing as coincidence.
For example, the same day Bash made that comment Trump spoke to the press to clarify his comments in Helsinki that appeared to favor Putin’s words over that of all the U.S. intelligence agencies. During his comments, which he read from a prepared statement, the lights suddenly went out for a few seconds, causing Trump to stop reading his text. An interesting coincidence…unless someone intentionally turned off the lights. But no one did. There was a powerful thunderstorm taking place in Washington D.C. while Trump spoke and the storm caused the temporary blackout.
If Bash really believes that there are no coincidences, then he would see the blackout as a random event and would overlook the interesting coincidence. Lights out, Trump! That was another lie! Meanwhile, many of us would consider it meaningful coincidence or synchronicity.
But I suspect that Bash has a sense of humor and probably found the blackout a humorous coincidence. Nature strikes at an appropriate moment.
Those who say: “I don’t believe in coincidence,” might turn to a more accurate commentary say: “I don’t believe that was a coincidence.” So the next time you hear someone say they don’t believe in coincidence, you might send them this little ditty. Maybe he or she will realize that the comment really doesn’t make any sense.