What’s fair? Sometimes, it’s one level below average and two below good. In another context, it’s not fair that student Bob gets to carry the lunchboxes two days in a row and I never get my turn. And during the summer, some of us are able to attend the state fair.
This is one of those interesting and provocative words that has multiple meanings and interpretations. We all learn the word “fair” at a young age. But what’s missing in many cases is the reality that sometimes, life just isn’t fair.
For instance, it isn’t fair that a small child falls a great distance from a cruise ship. We can call it negligence on the part of the cruise line for not having windows to prevent falls. Or we can call it irresponsibility on the part of the grandfather who wasn’t paying sufficient attention to the toddler’s ramblings. In either instance, it isn’t fair.
Regrettably, we use the designation of fair as an excuse or superficial interpretation. Is it reasonable to expect that life is fair, regardless of the situation? When we hear from our children that this or that isn’t fair, I’m thinking that we haven’t done a sufficient job of educating on the realities of life.
It isn’t fair that we lose our parents when they (and we) are young. It isn’t right that children are struck with leukemia. Likewise, it’s not appropriate that there’s an accident on our path to an airport for a flight that we could miss.
Why is it that we continually pursue fairness? Maybe it’s because we want to see the world as inherently good and just. It may be that we want to think that good things happen to good people and when that doesn’t happen, it’s an aberration or unfair.
As an educator and a writer, it’s my responsibility to educate that life and fair shouldn’t be used in the same sentence. If life is always fair, why should we do good works? But as I always point out, we’re not in the contingency contracting world. Doing something commendable and generous doesn’t always result in positive consequences.
Doing good deeds is right for both parties involved. In those cases where a corresponding outcome is only going to be fair, we’re simply on the wrong track. Shalom.
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