Speaking Of Fairness. . .


“That’s not fair!” Ever heard that refrain? Ever said it? At least you must have felt it, because life isn’t fair.

As the youngest of six children in a loud and bustling family, I paid attention to whether I got my fair share of food, the best toys, the most presents to open at Christmas, or time with my mother. The greatest of all was the latter. Attention, a euphemism for love, is essential for growing the inner well of confidence.

In my house growing up, there was a lot going on, and rarely enough time for individual needs to be met. At dinner I was usually placed at “starvation corner,” meaning I was the last to be served. Fairness was my mantra.

I was so focused on fairness that it followed me into adulthood. When my own children were growing up I made sure we had no starvation corner, but I swung too far in the opposite direction. I spent time equally with each son, even if it meant not completing a project. If I complemented one, I would say something nice to the other in the same breath. Without knowing it I was still fueling competition between them. I wondered why they didn’t play together.

In recent years after they had left home, I noticed that fairness had sunk into my pockets – literally! When I got out of my car at the grocery store, I put the keys in my right pocket. A few minutes later, I stopped at the bank, and when I came back to the car, the keys were now in my left pocket. I had developed an unconscious habit to be fair, even to my keys! That’s when I said, “Enough!”

The truth is, no matter how hard we try to be fair, or to be treated fairly, life does not come in equal packages. It rains just as we leave on a long-anticipated walk, a teacher gives only one student an “A” even though three others feel they deserved it just as much, your friend was qualified for a job but someone else got it for political reasons, your family didn’t have as much money as your best friend’s, my brother died too young.

How we view unfairness makes a big difference in our life. I struggle with it still, but I’m trying to remove myself from being an obsessive fair-monger. I strive to take each day and each moment as it comes without making judgments. I notice how feelings pass like clouds, but judgments hang heavy like fog.

Update: I’m happy to report that my keys are staying in the same pocket a little more often, and I have yet to hear a complaint from either one!

My keys

What’s “not fair” to you?
How do you cope with unfairness?

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9 Responses to Speaking Of Fairness. . .

  1. lm210 says:

    What’s Unfair or Fair?

    Life on Earth and while dealing with certain other people can appear certainly unfair to us, nature seems unfair to us as is Life or our Ideas or Person-hood of The Divine, but when it comes to conscientious human beings things don’t always have to be and should no be unfair.

    Nature lacks our human consciousness, soul or spirit and it has not given us any assurances of anything, we can not hold it responsible for anything, take her to court or to make complaints to it, nature just is; and it, and perhaps the most divine concepts, have never been proven to be some sort of fathers or mother to us, or to have any human sense of fairness and justice and care for us as we do.

    Yet due to our good or bad experiences or whatever else is the cause of it, we can not help but to anthropomorphize them and project our feelings, mind and souls unto them. But just because we do not necessarily received that projected human justice and fairness from our “fair” share of lot in our life, or from our interaction with the forces of nature; that should NOT stop us from being fair and respectful with each other, and with or to any other living or sentient being; our so call respect for nature—if any, is mostly an experience of fear or what it can do to us, and that is not to discard in such felling of respect the good things we received from nature too, as well as the appreciation from some of the teachings we received from it, yet Nature is not the full encompassing of real Wisdom, as it could ever be understood, and it has never sign up for it.

    I personally have seen Nature commit mistakes too, and I don’t think we should hold it as the ultimate teacher all the time and in all matters. Reverence and admiration for Nature inside and outside the Earth should be given but held on the same line of reasoning as developed above, “as with a grain of salt”. We are not just here to learn but also to teach, otherwise we end up being sort of useless for Life and Nature and our Ideal of the Divine, since after all, we are product of them. Our full participation in our evolution, progress, and improvement in all matters is the final end, and it appears that its meaning is revealed at the end of our journey, whenever that is to be.

    I believe that it is our primary mission to bring G’d or our idea of the Divine Fairness and Justice to all of us and to the Earth itself, in a conjunctive, compromised and synthesized manner with them; instead of just trying to attribute it as a task to be done by they only. As some of our sages had said, “The Messiah will come the second day after He/She/It is not longer needed”. To bring G’d to Earth, if we ever reach a full concept of His/Her/Its Divine level or the fullness of such Ideal of Supreme or Ultimate Goodness, we most allow Its works or actions to be manifested to others from a true altruistic or unselfish, respectful and loving point from inside ourselves; otherwise there is not G’d in our lives or in Life for our families, friends, animals, plants or the rest of the Earth.

    We most do our part in the principles of promoting: goodness in action, charity, fairness, sound justice, sound respect et cetera; while repairing making ammends, reconciling or living in the world and with other beings, and we most remember that to end or stop a “mitzvah” —a good thing where all of those principles apply— is the real meaning of unfairness.

    — Manny
    (Luis M O)

    • Manny, I like your mission to bring God our idea of the Divine Fairness and justice to all. It’s up to each of us to make a difference in whatever way we can, despite the injustices we have suffered. Thank you for your contribution. — Blessings, Eileen

      • lm210 says:

        Thank you Eileen. And I also get your point of not becoming too obsess with fairness that it then becomes like an OCD, lol. Please forgive my many grammatical errors and some omissions, among them: where I am writing “most” up there, should be “must”, and the complete quote from Kafka is:
        “The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but at the very last “(or our imperfection or near it?). Blessings to you too!—Manny.

  2. So understand. I spotted a pretty fall leaf and picked it up. Then saw another even nicer one and picked it up. As I started to drop the first, I actually felt guilt rejecting it. Fairness!

  3. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Hi Eileen, Your sweet photo depicts how easy it is to enjoy “both” new born ducks– that is fair enough! Often, I brought a new word to the dinner table, as a young girl– no starvation corner. When watching the U.S. Opens several days ago, I was, again, reminded that competitive tennis was a much “fairer” game, today, than years ago because of the Chase replay which showed, EXACTLY, where the tennis ball landed on the court! And, then there is the quote “All is fair in love and war.” Fairness connotes judgment in my mind. If you have so much to give, fairness takes on a different face. As a young working female, I was concerned with fairness, as it related to compensation and other benefits. If I worked, again, I would be the same.

  4. Elaine Naddaff says:

    Eileen, You are trying to understand the “obvious” in your life. The unbelievably Hugh(es) ego of the young and old Princeton male, your place in the sibling line up, being a privileged female in her 60’s, endowed with vim, vigor and the ready to go personality, the overwhelming responsibility of your undecided many roles and your MISSION TO SELL YOUR BOOK… “Fairness” is Republican, historically in the USA !!!! Why fight the Princeton males– your sons???? Read the latest “Princeton Alumni Weekly” article about Jennifer Altman– it is “packed” with the “telling tale”.
    stay cool… tks. for the online space— gotta stretch and look for a job…

  5. Phyll says:

    Be happy when you feel treated fairly and appreciate the goodness in life. Be still, otherwise.

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