Last week, the small town of Fairdale, Illinois was ravaged by an EF-4 tornado. What was once a community is now reduced to what looks like Pick-Up-Stix. One reporter said that had the tornado struck a quarter mile either north or south, the town would have been spared.
All that open space, but the tornado roared right through the town.
So not fair.
Most people are born healthy while some are born sick. Some face illness later in life. Others aren’t sick a day in their lives.
Qatar is the richest country in the world, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the poorest (based on per-capita GDP). I bet whether you are born in one or the other plays a huge part in your quality of life and your future. And where you’re born really isn’t up to you now, is it?
In the much more mundane and insignificant realm, there is the story of when my over-30 softball team made it to the championship—played on a freezing November night. The opposing team brought a 200’ extension cord to power a space heater and warm up their bats. They scored three runs in the top half of the first inning before the umpire agreed that their being able to heat their bats was unfair. Those three runs were the only ones scored in the game. Championship lost. (Yes, I’m still bitter about it.)
Things happen. Bad things happen to “good” people, and good things happen to “bad” people…and vice versa. It’s a pretty simple reality—all you have to do is look around you.
Life isn’t fair.
I get frustrated when people preach that being Christian means one’s life will be easier. Pardon me, but that’s a load of crap. There is no magic get-out-of-jail-free card. Faith will help you be better able to deal with life’s injustices and challenges, but if anyone tells you that believing will make your life all sunshine and lollipops, kick them in the shin (and then turn the other cheek. Wait, I may have that a bit confused.)
Bit I digress.
Fairness is not the default of life on earth. Just ask the gazelle being chased by the cheetah.
But don’t you long for it?
My son all too often begins a sentence with, “But I was just…” and then what follows is any one of a million explanations for why he was doing something he shouldn’t. It’s as though, given an excuse, everything can be made “right” or explained away. It’s a natural instinct, but it drives me crazy. Often when I tell my son that life isn’t fair, I remind him that he needs to understand that he can’t expect it to be fair, either.
I strongly believe we have to foster that in our children—not to expect fairness, but to fight for it. While we are not entitled to it, we shouldn’t settle for life’s injustices, either. The sooner kids understand this, the sooner they can choose to be active about it and not passively wait for justice.
Thankfully, that seems to be a part of the human spirit—fighting for fairness that will innately never happen on its own, and realizing that it is an uphill battle with no apex—no final destination. Not on this earth. We will never be victors when it comes to the fairness war, but battle by battle, we can make a difference. And I don’t think we’ll ever be short of battles.
Fairdale had no chance in battling against the tornado, but they are already battling the aftermath. As we so often see, after devastation comes restoration. We humans have a tendency to rise to our best when faced with the worst, and within hours of the storm, people were helping one another in critical ways.
It never ceases to amaze me how people even begin to clean up after such loss, but piece by piece, they do.
I’ll never understand how life works, but I’m so glad I have constant reminders to keep battling on. And on.
Life isn’t fair. It’s…life.
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
4 thoughts on “But That’s Not Fair!”
Thank you for sharing this Lisa. It is so hard to understand things that happen, and only God sees the entire picture.
I live in what is known as Canada’s “tornado alley”, with the most devastating one on May 31, 1985, which claimed several lives. I was a volunteer fireman at the time, and was called in to help search through the rubble, to try and locate missing persons. The one thing that really struck me, is that there would a house virtually demolished, and the house practically next door would have sustained much less damage.
And yes, this neighbourhood rebuilt. Thirty years later, it is re-established, and you would never guess that this took place.
Wow, Carl–thanks for sharing your story–and thanks for helping others.
I think this lesson is the hardest
one to accept — that life isn’t and
will never be, completely (or, for
some, even remotely) fair. One
advantage our kids do have, is
being born in a free society, where,
if they work hard, they can change
their lives. Imagine living in a
place where, no matter how talented
or hard working you are, you will
never be able to change your life’s
Thanks for sharing your insights,
Yes, Suzanne–the notion that I have what I have mainly because I was fortunate enough to be born in a rich country is a constant reminder to me. With that one change–being born somewhere else–my life would be drastically different. This kind of stuff can sometimes drive me crazy.