Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Fallacy of Fairness

How many times in my life, and yours as well I imagine, have I either uttered or heard uttered the words "Its Not Fair!" regarding everything from household chores, homework assignments, failed relationships or just life in general?  Well lets just say if I had a dollar for ....

Most of us grew up as children being taught things like "if you try hard enough you could be...." fill in the blank:  President, Astronaut, Famous Actor, Lawyer... the list can go on and on depending on what it was you aspired to be.  And we also grew up in that childhood innocence with a certain model of how things were supposed to go in life, either from our parents if you were lucky, or from the TV shows of the day showing happy American Family Life.  We were blissfully hopefull and unaware of what lies ahead.

The model goes something like this:  Go to school. Be a good citizen. Attend church regularly. Graduate High School. (Depending on your age group/generation) Join Military or Go to College. Meet Girl/Boy of dreams. Get married. Get job. Raise Kids. Take them to church with you.  Retire. Grandchildren. Cycle repeats itself with your kids. You die.  (If you are Baptist then hopefully someone went over the Romans Road to Salvation thing so you can go to heaven and not burn in hell - but thats really a different blog topic).

But something along the way breaks with this model.  Your parents divorce or worse one dies from cancer. That wasn't on the television?  Or your folks were just normal middle class and struggled just to make ends meet so there was no free ride to college and your dreams of becoming an attorney were just that: dreams. A difficult reality to achieve. Not impossible, but not an easy road like some folks.  Or you have a health issue that limits your abilities.  Maybe you are plagued by other issues.

Maybe your experience was different. Maybe you were born into privilege and most of this stuff was expected and delivered. The American Dream was literally laid at your feet. Maybe your plugged into social expectations and fulfilled them, only to be left, well, unfulfilled yourself.  You climbed the ladder that was in front of you only to discover it was leaning against the wrong wall. (Stephen Covey thing there).

I did a privilege exercise once and it was very interesting.  Folks in the group lined up next to one another, then took a step forward "if this" was part of your upbringing, or a "step back" if this was... etc.  At the end of the exercise many were way up in front and many were not.  And it wasn't because of their own effort or lack of it that anyone was where they were. Just things in life. Money, position, motivation, encouragement, family structure, and other variables.  Not one thing about your own effort. And that left an impression on me and may others in the group.

Life really isn't fair. We really all can't be President. Too many of us and too less of them anyway.  We can't all be born to billionaires.  Some of us will get sick, divorced, file bankruptcy, change belief systems, watch good people die while others (whom are a bit less good/deserving) live long lives. Forces at random in the universe playing with us like the Gods of old in Greek mythology..

But just because it isn't fair (never was intended to be) doesn't mean its bad either. Its a luck of the draw for the most part. Its what you make of it given the cards you were dealt. Its how you play your hand. Its the reason we engage in relationships, faith systems. How we treat others. How we use our limited or unlimited resources.

Jesus knew life wasn't fair. Well not fair in the way WE like to think of it. Like an even playing field.  Its simply not. The poor will always be with you, Jesus said.  I guess transversely the rich will also.  Jesus didn't say work harder so you can be rich too. No, he was pretty consistent about helping each other out when things were tough. Loving the unlovable of the day. Doing to others as you would like folks to do to you.

I know. Its tough. Would be easier to be level.  My sense of social justice would be meet. (See book of Habukkuk -4 pages in Old Testament).  But its not reality. Its a Fallacy. Life is what it is. Nothing more or less. The only variable in this ever changing equation is YOU. What are you doing with it. Resenting or Living? Sucking the life out of others or adding to their lives?

"Life isn't Fair"   Really?  ~npp