I loathe the phrase. As a statement of fact it doesn’t really make that much sense. Life can’t be fair or unfair. Its just what it is. People rarely utter this phrase to support somebody and is not supportive anyway. More often people use this phrase as justification. “Well, life isn’t fair”. Its a common phrase for parents to utter to their children. “Life is awful so don’t complain” seems to be the implication.
If you were to disagree with my assertion above, then logically we use the phrase “life isn’t fair” to explain that the world is not a fair place and thus logically we must expect in our lives to be treated unfairly, to be treated badly, to expect misfortune, bad luck, and for other people to not treat us justly.
Are we really saying that though? We also get told we must follow the rule of law, we must do what our teachers say, we must do what our managers say, we should treat others as we expect to be treated, we should be fair to others. Aren’t these two statements in conflict with each other? The phrase “life isn’t fair” as a justification only works if we thus teach or ‘allow’ people to be unfair to others.
I don’t believe in a “just world”. I don’t believe karma is real or that a divine entity will make adjustments to make life fair. I do believe that actions have consequences but not to a grand plan of fairness, actions and reactions are just what they are, and just happen, in many cases randomly.
Despite all of this I go about each day with a genuine, deeply felt sense that I have been treated badly, undeservedly. I do not deserve to be treated as I am. Given how much time I spend caring about everybody else, given how much effort I put into things that benefit others, its not fair, right?
Well, I believe this because I was taught that we must all be kind to each other, we must honour each other, be nice, and not be selfish. Quite frankly this is utter bullshit. I have nothing but anger and contempt for the actions of people who taught me this tripe. Its not true. The world isn’t a fair place, as they blindly would tell me when I was mistreated, but would enforce their moral views on me anyway. I’m required to care about others, not be selfish, but when others do the same to me, all that is left is an empty statement of agreement and a useless retort – life isn’t fair.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learnt through counselling is that our life is ours alone and we should not let others control us, instead, we must seek to achieve what we want and in most cases put our needs before others. All of this is in super stark contrast to what most of us are told when children, when we’re taught that we should put others first.
Life isn’t fair, so why should I act fairly all the time? Why exactly must I accept that life is shit, and yet, feel guilty if I do what I want rather than what others want? Why exactly am I expected to not do things others don’t like, or act the way others want me to act, when nobody ever does that for me?
What really bothers me is that in life other people act unfairly, and I have to accept this, because life isn’t fair, and I’m not allowed to act unfairly myself, but on top of this, I’m not even allowed to express my frustration about other peoples actions. No. I must not do this. I must be quiet, not cause a problem, and censor myself, because, after all, life isn’t fair.
In researching this blog post I read a lot of articles about fairness and the reality of the world, one of my favourites was your broken idea of fairness. I don’t agree with all of it, and I don’t have a broken idea of fairness because, as you have just read, I know the world isn’t fair. What I think is important is his Rule number one. Life is a competition. It isn’t meant to be fair, and if you believed all that crap growing up about sharing, fairness, etc, then you were gullible. Life is about getting what you want over others.
I think the most important part of the article is talking about how other peoples morality is forced onto us as children:
People like to invent moral authority. It’s why we have referees in sports games and judges in courtrooms: we have an innate sense of right and wrong, and we expect the world to comply. Our parents tell us this. Our teachers teach us this. Be a good boy, and have some candy.
But reality is indifferent. You studied hard, but you failed the exam. You worked hard, but you didn’t get promoted. You love her, but she won’t return your calls.
Life isn’t fair. But don’t let others tell you to act fairly when simultaneously justifying the world by saying it isn’t fair. Do what you want. Be you. Say it like it is, and realise that others are competing with you. Its very unlikely they will place you before them, so don’t place them before you.