Life Is Fair

What, did someone tell you it isn’t?

If your universe is like mine, you hear it all the time:

“Life isn’t fair.”

Parents say it a lot. I think it’s mostly a way to tell your kids to shut up and accept whatever perceived inequality is stinging them. It’s easier than explaining exactly why they can’t have everything that everyone else has.

“Life isn’t fair.”

Coaches and mentors say it, mostly when they’re trying to suggest that you should stop being a whiny little creep and start working on improving your own life instead of sitting around envying other people’s circumstances and achievements.

“Life isn’t fair.”

I’ve said it myself, when my current state of affairs seemed particularly rotten and I couldn’t understand why – or I didn’t want to understand why.

“Life isn’t fair.”

“Life isn’t fair.”

“Life isn’t fair.”

But what if it is?

I think most of the time when people say life isn’t fair, they mean that life isn’t the same for everyone. But please stop and try to imagine that for a moment, and then explain to me: how would a life that is the same for everyone be fair?

We are not the same. We don’t make the same choices. We don’t sow the same seeds. We don’t want the same things. 

Maybe we mean that someone else seems to be having an easier time of it than we are – but that is only our perspective. And even if their circumstances are currently less painful than ours, life is much more than today. 

I tend to think life is fair, because I believe that the Creator is fair and because I believe in the law of sowing and reaping…and I don’t see how I can believe those two things and still say life isn’t fair. As though ‘life’ is something that exists entirely apart from God.

I don’t know enough to say that everything I experience, good or bad, I have personally earned. I think it’s true that sometimes I reap what other people have sowed, and you could say that isn’t fair. But we are created relational beings; we can moan about that all day if we want to, but it’s a law of our universe. If I want to be able to receive good things from other people, I have to accept that they can cause me suffering as well. But for the most part, I do get to choose who I allow to sow into my life, so once again, that’s fair. 

Maybe there is such a thing as random, senseless tragedy. The ancient Israelites didn’t seem to think so, but apparently we have much less courage and personal responsibility. 

Because it’s so much easier to say life isn’t fair than to admit that I have earned my sorrows…either by myself, or through my parents and their parents – and again, if you think that it isn’t fair that you might suffer from their choices because you didn’t choose who would give birth to you, then you have also have to say it’s not fair that you can sow good into the lives of your children and grandchildren. And maybe it isn’t. But again, we are deeply relational. We are literally created from each other.

And when I stop to consider, I know that I cannot know. Maybe life is fair. Maybe life isn’t fair. How arrogant would I have to be to take my splinter of space and time which I can only see through my broken perspective, and think I can judge all life from it?

Maybe the entire system is broken. Maybe none of us gets what we deserve.

But my life tends to be less terrible when I pretend that my choices have consequences. So I think I’ll keep doing that for now. And squinting at all the people who say, “Life isn’t fair.”

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OR maybe when people say life isn’t fair, what they actually meant is life isn’t beautiful to gaze upon, and I’ve just been misunderstanding the entire world all this time.

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