Probably every person who ever lived has said at one time or another, ”That’s not fair.” Thinking back to childhood, I remember some of the baseball games we had in our neighborhood. One boy was a far better athlete than the rest of us. It was “not fair” whichever team had him. We had special rules for him. He had to hit the ball a lot farther than we did to score a home run. We made these rules to level the playing field and make it at least possible for either team to win.
Sometimes the unfairness comes from those in authority. I remember standing in line for some function. The boy behind me said something to me. I turned around to talk to him. Because I was a good deal taller than he was, my hand made contact with the side of his head. There was no conflict, and I figured it was forgotten. A day or two later my father angrily confronted me. Apparently, this boy’s mother had approached my father about my fighting with her son. I told my father exactly what had happened. He asked me repeatedly why I had not told him about this incident.
It didn’t matter to him that there was really no incident. He kept telling me how embarrassed he was when this woman approached him, and he had no knowledge of anything happening. He went to great lengths to be sure I knew he was disappointed and embarrassed he had been. It did not matter at all that to the best of my knowledge there had been no incident. His reaction and his disappointment in me was more painful than the two days I had to spend time in my room.
I recall one of my physical education courses in college. There were a number of activities in the class, and some of them were difficult. I have never been an athlete and did my best to do the things required in the class. There must have been a number of us struggling to complete the tasks. One day the professor, who was also the college football coach, stopped the class and yelled at us for not being able to perform well. He actually told us his football players were not given a break in the academic classes, and that he was not going to give us any breaks in his Phys. Ed. class. I remember being very surprised. We were doing our best in the class, and the fact that we were not athletically proficient seemed an unfair standard for judging our effort and participation.
When our children were younger, they would occasionally tell us they thought something was unfair. To this day, I believe they could recite my response, ”Where is it written that life is fair?” We often find ourselves in situations and circumstances which seem to be or in fact are unfair. Often in life, there is no one to blame for these situations. Our responses to unfair experiences have a lot to say about the way we approach life in general. We can become fearful, critical and argumentative, or we can assess the situation and figure out what we can to endure and overcome the unfair situation we are facing.
As we move forward, it is also helpful to be aware of how others are handling unfair circumstances. Unfair circumstances tend to bring out either the best or the worst in others. Maybe “worst” behavior is someone’s best effort to cope with the unfair circumstances. Are you experiencing unfairness in your life? How are you handling it? Is your behavior helpful to others?If you would like to receive new As We Move Forward posts, please subscribe to the As We Move Forward mailing list by clicking here. I release entries on a bi-weekly basis.
We have a podcast containing the As We Move Forward articles read by Jonathan Bloom.