Saturday, June 12, 2010
I have given a lot of thought about fairness recently. It has to do with how much I enjoy my life now since I retired and re-married, compared to the struggles life presented me before.
Not that life before, was under constant stress or devoid of the good feelings I have more frequently now. But, the idea keeps creeping into my thoughts that that somehow I have earned every bit of my good feelings now present, by successfully, for the most part, working through my past tribulations, and it is only fair that I am receiving the benefits now.
Fair? How does fairness work? Let’s not get carried away here, David. Let’s look at this.
Equality, justice, and social change all have their roots in our perceptions of fairness, and the very ability to perceive fairness is itself rooted in the behavior of our animal ancestors. It arises early in childhood, when it is echoed in the familiar cry of “That’s not fair.”
Sportsmanship, fair play, the Golden Rule, hard work is rewarded, charity towards others is returned in kind; these are all deeply steeped in our culture. I endorse these concepts and think I live by them, however imperfectly at times. I am a person that studies rules and insist that they be followed, and not violated because they would benefit me or my friends. And I could never be a politician.
But living in the world has taught me that fairness has no bearing on what happens to people. Disasters happen, greedy people succeed, stupid people are rewarded for their stupidity, loved ones are lost in wars that should never have taken place, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
Religion tries to mediate by promises of an afterlife where good deeds are rewarded, but I don’t buy it. The idea there is a personal god that interferes in human activities has lead people to unknowingly support unimaginable evils. Given the powers and traits that a supreme being is supposed to possess, I find such a figment to be lacking fairness. And how can I accept a deity that doesn’t live up to my standards of fairness?
So where does that leave me? How do I justify feeling so blessed now?
I believe there are no answers as there are no answers to many things it life or what happens when someone’s life ends. Just accept the things that brought me here and know that everything counts.