Life is never fair. I’ve lived long enough to know that this is unquestionably true – but also long enough to know that the inequities in my life are chicken feed in the general scheme of things.
But we don’t live in ‘the general scheme of things’. If we’re capable of thinking outside the square, we do our best to balance the scales for those who need it most, but even so, we each live in our own present. We assess our lives not against some ephemeral global ‘norm’, but against the day-to-day reality of the society we live in: the expectations of the Joneses next door are inevitably more relevant than the expectations of a society outside our field of reference.
But there’s another truth that’s even less palatable: in Western society, ‘fairness’ is weighted in favour of those who shout the loudest, have the most ruthless egos and don’t allow conscience to get in their way.
I used to wonder, from time to time, whether it was fair to my children to teach them the virtues of honesty and consideration, and to encourage their sense of empathy. After watching them all but trampled in a queue at the Royal Easter Show one year by children with no such inhibitions, I mentioned this to my father. You can only be true to yourself, he said, and of course he was right. An active sense of justice and fair play may not have made their lives easier, but they have achieved their successes honourably. They are adults to be proud of.
So while the ruthless egos may appear to be top of the heap, I cannot respect them. I despise their ability to manipulate their malleable consciences to justify their injustices. I am alienated by their sense of righteousness. Their egocentricity sickens me.
I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m speaking with a tongue polluted by sour grapes, but actually – no. I’m looking around, and in some places, I don’t like what I see.