Perspectives on Fairness

When I was growing up in a family with 2 competing brothers and a sister, ensuring the deserts were exactly the same size was of prime importance. Otherwise, it might imply that one sibling was getting special treatment. And that was not fair!

In fact, there are few families where one child isn’t favoured over the others. It’s a fact – and no, it isn’t fair. But us less favoured ones make it through to adulthood, in some ways able to cope with worldly challenges better than our more favoured siblings. At least, I like to tell myself that.

The main thing that I eventually came to understand is that ‘fairness’ is a human construct. We are the ones who need something to be fair and just, and yet so many of us through the ages of human kind, did not get a fair shake at all. All I have to do is think of the kidnapped children of Ukraine who are now in Russia, or the women and female children who were brutally raped and murdered last month, or the thousands killed or wounded in Gaza who were innocents caught between 2 warring groups.

Life isn’t fair, as several teachers have reminded me. It’s what I do with what I get in life that is important, not whether it’s fair.

For me personally, I tend to take responsibility for others unwittingly. Then when something goes wrong, even if I know I had nothing to do with what happened, deep down I feel guilty. Because I feel guilty, I look guilty to others, and this provides an opening for the less scrupulous to pin guilt on me. It isn’t fair. But I do understand it, and this understanding helps me deal with these instances better.

It helps me when I remember what my teachers said, because then I can put a pause on feeling hurt and immobilized and turn to how I can deal with what I have in front of me.

I can focus on some one tiny thing that was a moment of beauty or joy, on the skills I have and the energy I have in the moment to make something of what I have, and of putting my particular circumstances into perspective. I am very lucky, all told. I hope you are as well.


Quote of the Week

The world isn’t fair, Calvin.”
“I know Dad, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?

– Calvin, of Calvin and Hobbes


What is fair and what is just?


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