Is Life Fair?
“If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”
When you were a child did you believe life should be fair? Did you take notice if your sister or brother had more candy than you? Does this hold a familiar echo for you: “That’s not fair!”
Do you believe today that life is fair or should be?
I would love to be able to say that life is fair but how can I when some people are starving and I have a refrigerator – and a freezer (and a garden) – filled with food? Does it make sense to say that life is fair when I have a roof over my head and ample water flowing from our spring and so many people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water; when I am healthy and sleep comfortably in my own bed while others have no beds at all?
No, no and no!
I gave birth to two beautiful children and twenty-three years later I sat at the front of the church at the funeral for my son. Some mothers have borne many more than two children —and have never lost one. Yet, I have had the experience of being a mother to a precious son while many mothers will never know that joy.
What are we to do with this unfairness of life? How do we sort it out?
Who is to say that I am any happier because of the food in my home, my leak-proof roof and my comfortable bed than those who do not have these things? Who is to say I am any less happy than the person with many children who has never buried a child even as I try to deal with the absence of my son?
Should happiness be the unit which measures fairness and how would that work since happiness itself is so subjective? Richard Carlson says we can be happy no matter what. Byron Katie says our unhappiness is caused by believing our thoughts. Deepak Chopra says happiness is a function of having cultivated a state of well-being which is available for anyone to access. And Anthony de Mello says true happiness is uncaused.
Maybe “Is life fair?” is the wrong question, that in asking it we manifest a balance scale that is bound to foster unhappiness. Whether or not I conclude that life is fair, whatever constitutes fairness, my happiness, or lack of it, is in my hands.
Do you believe life is fair? How do you approach this strange conundrum?
Photo credit: Mike Cogh