Often it seems that fairness is hard to come by. We are apt to judge by so many different standards that arriving at any agreement becomes difficult. It can make you wonder if there is such a thing as fairness.
I’m pretty sure the whole idea starts out early in life, as if we were born with an inner sense of what could be considered fair. Watching children for even a short period of time it’s likely you’ll spot this. I think most parents would say it happens every day. One child has a toy the other wants and an argument breaks out or one of the children rips the toy from the others hand and runs away, each one shouting, “it’s not fair”.
I’m not sure that any of us ever outgrows some version of this.
We seem to have an expectation that life will be fair. Why is this? Who is it that made this promise to us, as if the world owes each one of this valuable gift?
When the balance tips and we sense injustice, it hurts. We feel it most keenly when we act in a certain way, using our idea of good behavior. We anticipate or expect a reward and if we don’t receive it, we may claim that life is not fair because, after all we’ve done our part.
This happens all throughout our lives. At home, in school, at work and in our relationships.
Maybe part of the challenge is that we don’t all use the same definitions of the word ‘fair’. One dictionary says that ‘fair’ is defined as, ‘acting in accordance with rules or standards’.
I can certainly see how this creates a problem. Whose rules are we talking about? And who is in charge of setting up the standards? If we end up with numerous rules and standards, how could there ever be any hope that there would be only ONE way to measure fairness?
Maybe it’s time to take a step back.
There seems to me to be a short, medium and long view here.
In the short view, we have two basic choices, we either complain about a situation or we accept it. In the medium view, we may choose to try to find ways to change a situation and arrive at a better sense of fairness. A negotiation of sorts.
I wonder if there is a long view we can take. One that supposes that life is operating on a grander scale than we can see. That fairness is bigger and broader than we thought.
Three questions pop up for me.
Do I actually know all of the facts involved so that I can make a determination about fairness? Not even remotely likely. There are just too many things I may not know.
At what point is it wise for me disregard my opinion about fairness, if it makes me unhappy? After all, I don’t have control over every outcome. If it’s more important to lead a happy satisfied life, maybe it doesn’t matter as much about my perception of fairness.
And the most important question is who can I turn to for some insight and inspiration?
My answer is always the same, the divine. For me, it is the part of (god) I call Lia (love in action). When I asked her for guidance about fairness, she asked me to trust that everything in life ‘serves me’, no matter how it looks at the time and that there is always an underlying love that threads through every action.
To truly understand, I need examples. Maybe you do too, so here is a quick one.
I invariably pick the slow lane at the grocery check-out, which can feel unfair. If I step back I recognize this is a feeling, not a fact and that if it makes me unhappy, that is my choice, but not a wise one nor worth the cost. And if I look a bit deeper, I notice that, while I am waiting I see more. I have a chance to slow down and breathe and make eye contact with others. I can even close my eyes and call Lia to me and savor my connection to the divine.
So, it’s okay with me if I end up in the slow lane because I’m changing the name now to – the savor lane.
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2 Replies to “A Sense of Fairness”
I have a very strong “fairness” drive. Much of it does revolve around me, but I think most of it is a response to the injustices in the world. People can be cruel out of their own fear and too many receive the brunt of that cruelty.
I agree and find that it is very challenging to see all of the injustices in the world. It can be disheartening and present a real challenge to find a better solution, one where we empower others rather than continue treating them unfairly.