How many moms have heard their kids say, "that isn't fair?!" Sometimes with an exclamation point of outrage. Sometimes with a question mark as if to say are you really going to let this stand? Other times you aren't sure if they mean it with an exclamation or a question, nor do they.
My husband's standard response was always, "You're right life isn't a fair. A fair is where pigs win prizes." That never seemed to soothe my son's point he was making. By the time we reach adult hood, we stop saying things about fairness as often as we want to. We can see life isn't fair all around us. We have gotten used to it.
So this comes as no shock when I say life isn't fair. The question then remains how do we make the best out of the unfairness? I think as I've matured if I could go back to some of my son's "that's not fair" outbursts I'd ask him to be more specific. It isn't fair to do chores? Sure it is, everyone should do chores. You may not like doing them or you may feel like you do more than others do. That again is part of life. There will always be a person who carries more responsibility than another. A janitor may actually work harder in a company than any other department. It isn't unfair, it is part of the occupational choices available to the individuals. So a better exclamation might be, "I don't want to!"
It isn't fair that the teacher chooses a certain student to call on every day and ignores the rest of you? You're right that isn't fair. So how can you change it? You can't make the teacher call on you, but you could stay after class and ask why. Or you can decide this is an injustice you can live with. Move on and grow from. Any individual can take a stand against an injustice or change the world they live in. Or they can choose to live with the situation, close their eyes, and wait for someone else to take up the crusade.
When I look at current events, especially in my home town, I was thinking about what brought them to the place they are in. What is really going on under the hostility, anger, and tears? I don't want to be very specific because that headline isn't really the point of my post. It was merely the inspiration as I have known for a long time that the city needed to change. That there were big problems. I was just one of the many who turned my head and hoped someone else had a better idea, a better plan, or a solution. I decided I could live with "that's not fair." It takes great courage to decide you can't live with it anymore. To decide to do something about it. I don't think everything that has been done there has been the right thing. However, these are just people. People who are tired of life not being fair. They are right. There needs to be a change. Some are going about things correctly, others not, but if in the end it wakes the right people up to start enacting change they win. They've won against life's unfairness just a little bit.
So maybe, next time my teenager yells, "Life's not fair!" I need to take the opportunity to hear him. Is he using the phrase out of context or could he perhaps have a point? It is an opportunity to instill in him the idea that he can change the world. To give him a portion of the self confidence, courage, and bravery required to change the world. While we will always live with a bit of unfair in our lives, isn't it powerful to imagine we can change some of it?