“But it’s not fair!”--the exclamation that rings out of kids and adults from 1 to 92. We all know the woefully uncomforting answer: “Life’s not fair.” When I hear those three words I think, “Really, is that all we’ve come up with?”
If you know me, especially lately, you may have noticed some deconstructionistic tendencies in my writings and thoughts. Why do we say what we do? And why do we accept what we say? Even more important to me is why we say things and then do the opposite.
Why do we respond to emotional statements with responses that squash the emotion? As if making a logical statement makes it all better. “It’s not fair!” can be a thought and emotion, but the response is always a thought. Once the response becomes a statement of fact, then it is subject to a whole realm of logic, and all sorts of conclusions you don’t want. For instance, if life is not fair, then there is no point of being fair if you want to survive. Or, if life is not fair, and I keep doing things to make it fair, then I am in an endless pursuit. “Life’s not fair” can put me in a pretty helpless predicament where I do desperate things to make life fair for me, which never works because it’s not fair. Try this: Because the government isn’t fair, it is okay for me to not be fair on my taxes in order to make up for the unfairness. (I hope this is not too hard for you to understand like the other stuff I write, Michael;).
Whether life is fair or not is a thought for plenty of debate. We will continue to build philosophies and religions around how do deal with unfairness in this world. Those still won’t help the emotions behind “It’s not fair.” There must be a better follow up statement to that statement that takes the emotion into account--a way to say, "Yeah, it can feel that way." Of course, we can always continue to pass the anxiety that we avoid from the emotion of that statement to the next generation and let them try to sort it out intellectually, as they accuse us of not being fair.
Next up, “Big boys don’t cry.” May it never be uttered in my home!
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