As I consider the enormity of the English language, there is one word right now that I can’t stop thinking about:
A word that is so overused…and yet a word that describes a concept that is so vague, elusive, intangible. Probably because it is so overused.
We’ve all heard it. We’ve all said it. We’ve all thought it.
“That’s not fair!”
“To cry fair or foul.”
“All’s fair in love and war.”
My online dictionary defines fair as “in accordance with the rules or standards.” Most of the time, that definition works for me. But I realize, it works for me ONLY because the “rules or standards” happen to go with my own desires and wants at that time.
When someone exclaims something is not fair, it’s usually because they feel they were entitled to some specific outcome/behavior. Many times, the entitlement is justified; it is in accordance with the typical society’s “rules and standards”.
For example, I have always believed that when I (and my spouse) was ready to have kids, we would readily, easily conceive them. I considered that “fair”. And, when the time came, that’s how it happened. All three times.
But wait, how many loving, amazing people are out there want the same as I did? Millions. How many of those same are not having children easily? Millions more, probably. Friends close to me are having conception issues – they have waited, pondered, researched for years – they have done all that thinking that most of the rest of us didn’t do. It seems “fair” to me that they should be more entitled to children than I was. Whose “rules and standards” are in effect here?
Another example of a skewed sense of fairness concerns a former principal I worked under; his six-month-old infant son passed away unexpectedly last night. According to the “rules and standards” we’re used to, we are entitled to outlive our children. It just seems to align with the natural sense of the world. I wonder now: where did I get that right to believe that?
These things cause me to call my idea of “fairness” in question. Once upon a time, I might have cried these things “weren’t fair”…without any sense of what I really meant. Now, because I do believe the universe unfolds as it will, despite what we do, these things occur for some cosmic reason. And, I don’t have to remind you guys that our “society” is not the end all-be all. There is a larger, more sublime “Society” that exists, and it has its own rules and standards…ones that we will probably never, ever comprehend.
Now, all I can really say is: These things aren’t fair…to me. And probably not to people I know, either.
Does this make you feel helpless? I hope it’s doesn’t. I think we waste too much time proclaiming what’s fair and what isn’t. It doesn’t matter – it’s what a person does after the judgment that matters.