Many of the people I have worked with have grievances and emotional hurts that are the results of situations that can be understood simply as, ‘They just weren’t treated fairly’.
They felt wronged. They felt neglected. They felt slighted, that someone else was treated more favorably for no good or obvious reason. Or they felt misled or deceived outright. They’re hurt. They’re angry and feeling quite justified about it.
This sense of fairness, of cosmic justice or a final judgment wherein we all will get what we truly deserve, is a prime element in the concept of karma, in most religions’ version of an afterlife and certainly, in theory, in our criminal justice system.
We expect and want things to be fair. Still, we have to acknowledge, that from the beginning of time, stuff happens in life that simply doesn’t seem fair. A tree falls on this person and not the person standing next to them. A tornado hits this house and not the one 20 feet away. The examples are too many to list. Infants die of SIDS, preventable diseases and starvation. What can ever be fair about that?
More than a few have turned away from any notion of karma or of final fairness because of the sheer unpredictability of life. Fairness is a fairy tale to them. With cynicism and disgust, they proclaim that life is absurd and that it has no meaning. I have always found this to be a cover for their deepest pains and their indescribable loss.
Life has meaning. We each give it its meaning. We are in an interactive environment. If we tell ourselves or decide for ourselves that life is pointless and absurd, then that’s how life will behave. We will find all the evidence we need to support our conclusion. We will indeed find what we are seeking. If, however, we tell ourselves that we matter and we decide for ourselves that we will strive to make a difference, then we will indeed matter and we will indeed make a difference. That’s what is so ultimately fair. We have an integral role to play in the fulfillment and purpose we experience.
Nelson Mandela was not the first person to be wrongly imprisoned nor was he the only one. He may not even be the best example of a person’s not giving in to despair under difficult and unfair treatment but he certainly is a widely known one. Every day in this world, people are making choices that bring out the best in themselves and inspire those around them. These are not famous people. These are the meek that shall inherit this earth. They choose to try, they struggle and falter and some even perish, but they take responsibility for the course they have chosen. These are the ones with the ready smile and the helpful hand. They never wonder if they’re being fair when they smile or when they pitch in to help. They don’t assess if the person deserves it. They are acting true to themselves and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
We all know such persons. And we are all glad that we do.
I think that’s quite fair.