Wow. I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually looked up that word, but just looking at the definition I can see why one of the most repeated phrases I hear no matter where I am is, “That’s not fair!” Because, obviously, nothing is fair in life. There is always bias. There will always be dishonest people and dishonest practices. And injustice is the one thing that has woven the fabric of history together into the varied quilt it has become. So, why then do we still feel like everything has to be fair for us in our lives? Why don’t we just accept the fact that “fair” is a misnomer and always will be? Wouldn’t we be better off that way?
The simple answer is no. The more complex answer also ends with no, and for a variety of reasons.
We’ve all heard how it’s not what you know but who you know that makes a difference in life. I could work really hard to make something a reality, but if I don’t know the right people it may never happen, no matter how hard I try. Case in point: publishing the “traditional” way. Thousands of people every single year query book publishers, and book editors, and book agents, trying to get some kind of deal, but thousands of people are also rejected every year. The ones who get through are the exceptions to the rule, unless there happens to be some connection, which there usually is, between someone they know, and someone familiar to the publisher, editor, or agent. It happens more often than you would think.
Then there are the people who just can’t seem to catch a break, no matter what they do. Is it fair that they aren’t able to make their dreams a reality? No, of course it isn’t. But whining about things not being fair isn’t going to change anything. Instead, there is something special about us called perseverance, fighting hard for what we want and not taking no for an answer. That’s why the simple answer is no. No, we won’t accept the “everything isn’t fair so we should give up” mentality. Things may not be fair, but that’s the hand we’ve been dealt. Now, we can fold, or we can look at the cards in a different order and make the best of our hand. Sure, I may be rejected hundreds of times by publishers, editors, and agents, but I keep hope alive in my heart and mind. That makes it worth it, even if it will never be fair, and even if I’m never published the traditional way.
And there’s my children, too. You know how kids can be when it comes to things being fair. They have a keen sense of what is and what isn’t fair, and they aren’t shy about telling you what they think. My daughter, Alexa, is constantly saying that the expectations we have of her aren’t fair because we don’t expect all of the same things from her sister, Madeline. That’s when I explain to Alexa that she is seven years old and she can understand a lot more than the four year old. I also talk to her about how sometimes things just aren’t fair in the black and white way that she defines the term. Madeline has Down syndrome so it takes her longer to grasp a lot of the concepts that Alexa has had down forever. I ask her if she thinks it’s “fair” that Madeline has Down syndrome, and she takes time to think about it, and finally comprehends what I’m trying to tell her.
Life isn’t fair. That’s just the way it is, but it’s not about leaving it there and pouting about it. It’s about making the most of our lives, fair or not. It’s about enjoying ourselves, and our families and friends. It’s about doing the best we can on our jobs and in our careers, about leaving the world a better place when we leave than when we found it. That’s as fair as it can be, and that’s good enough for me, because life’s too short to complain about the injustice of it all. That’s not fair!