Fairness. I am a big proponent of fairness. I’m an “all men are created equal” kind of woman. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness, and all that. Yes, I know, Life Isn’t Fair. So I’ve heard over these many years. Intellectually knowing this little truism to be sadly true still cannot quite triumph over my deeply emotional devotion to fairness. I know true fairness is nigh unto impossible, but I still yearn for it, hoping against all hope that someday my foolishness will be redeemed by the universe.
I think the Buddhists or one of the eastern religions call this Karma. The law calls it Justice (though that definition too is getting a bit unworkable). Some would call it Just Desserts. As you sow, so shall you reap, I think Jesus might have said. Or it could have been Shakespeare. Also known as Getting What’s Coming to You. And, in perhaps its most extreme form, Vigilantism. I’m not advocating anything violent or nasty here. I’m just saying, I can totally understand how vigilantism might take root. An Eye for An Eye. I find that difficult. We need to Rise Above.
Fairness relies heavily upon its cousin “integrity,” and unfortunately that is one unreliable relative. Also known as “Doing the Right Thing.” Walking the Talk, and Standing Up for What’s Right. Taking the Log Out of Your Own Eye, Judging Not, Lest You Be Judged. Do Unto Others. I believe that someone famous once said “The measure of a person’s integrity is in how he/she treats someone who can do nothing for him.” Mark Twain? Neitzche? Ghandi. Wikipedia is so unreliable. And this writer thinks that Integrity is in all around short supply.
You know, fairness has been in the news recently—in the guise of taxes. As in “fair share.” In sports—as in “an unfair advantage due to the use of performance enhancing drugs.” Is it Fair to let an alleged cheater raise money for charity? How about this: Is it fair to let the guy with prosthetic legs into the race? Honestly, I’m not being sarcastic here—what really is the Right Thing in this particular situation? King Solomon might be hard pressed to untwist that mystery.
Fairness is Elusive. Is it Fair when an uninsured drunk guy runs into your car and doesn’t get a ticket because it happened on Private Property (a store’s parking lot)? And YOUR insurance company pays him but YOU have a $500 deductible. Totally Not Fair. Is it Fair when the old guy at work who knows nothing about computers only wants MEN to work on his computer? Nope. Is it FAIR that the father generally gets screwed in child custody cases? Absolutely Not Fair. How about buying things across the border in order to dodge taxes? See, now that’s a tough one, isn’t it? Buying a computer in Oregon to evade Washington sales tax? Hiding a gazillion dollars overseas. Stocking up on subsidized milk and gasoline at the Bellingham Coscto? Is there really a difference? Taxes pay for things we all use.
Back to my earlier premise: Fairness requires Integrity. Do the right thing, even if no one is watching. Listening to our consciences. I think we’ve all gotten too far away from that still small voice that natters away in the remote recesses of our minds, frantically waving its little arms, trying desperately to get our attention. Having Integrity requires us to take a look around, put others first every now and then. Not always—I am not saying we need to make a radical lifestyle choice here—I’m just saying, it never hurts to think before we act. Like is anyone in the neighborhood still sleeping at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning? Would this be a good time to use my power saw?
Things I’ve learned while writing this blog: I still believe in Fairness. I will always hope for it. We all should think about it more often. And I totally focused on myself while pondering this concept.
Okay, here’s a less selfish look at things: I know I could be more Fair. I could use some patience behind the steering wheel. I could stop sighing loudly in lines (any line: traffic, grocery store, restaurant, movie theatre, ferry)—if I really wanted to be first and if I really was in such a gosh darn hurry, I should have gotten there earlier. It’s no one’s fault but mine. I learned this little nugget somewhere—an event is as important to you as you are willing to make the effort not to miss it. In other words—is it fair that you totally missed a concert because traffic was so bad? How important was that concert? Evidently not so important that you made SURE you left early enough. Is it important enough to get there a day ahead? Two hours ahead? Fifteen minutes? Does my lack of planning make my emergency more important that anyone elses? Nope. Get in Line. Life’s not fair. Not usually. But when it is? Life is Sweet.
Lest I confuse anyone into thinking I’m saying we all need to get used to life being Unfair—not so. That is implied in the Do Unto Others. Listen. We all need to see the humanity in each other. Listen. Treat Others as YOU would Like to be Treated. And when life is fair, when the abusive spouse gets justice; when the drunk driver gets a ticket and jail, when the bullied child pops the bully in the nose (yeah, I said it), when the parents listen to the teachers, when the father wins custody because he IS the fittest parent, when the gays can marry, when women can make their own decisions, about everything, when the cheaters and schemers have lost. Life will be fair.
One thought on “In Which I Get a Little Obsessed with Fairness”
Great ramble. I love how you used humor to lighten a rant and the whole thing was just plain thought provoking. Good for you. Now if life were fair you would get your book published. I hope so. Your writing needs to be out there in the world.