The 365 Commitment

The Fairness Hurdle

One of the things that I like to do when I am running is to think of the hurdles that get in my way in my pursuit of success. I imagine them as hurdles that I have to jump over as they come up in my mind. I have collected several over the course of running around my neighborhood. Yesterday, I got a letter from the Superintendent of Schools in the area talking about the importance of giving humans the right to equity. I thought that was an interesting choice of word. She could have used the word equality, but she did not. I thought this through for a while. I imagine that equality is when you would want to set it up where everyone started at the same level in life, whereas equity you would want to correct imbalances that some people experience so that society can make things more fair, or more just.

I am not sure I accept that as a value. I have to contemplate that more, but that led me to one of the hurdles that I frequently encounter as I run, and that is fairness. You see, I like to think of something that I want to accomplish. Then as I run, I contemplate what are the obstacles that are preventing me from getting there. One common one is fear, another is resistance (from people), but one of the big ones is this ideal of fairness. It is one of the biggest excuses that I have for not taking action. I consider it a hurdle that I must overcome.

When I was a child, I remember my mom telling me something to the effect, “tough toenails, life is not fair.” I think this was in response to me lamenting that something or another was not fair. This was probably in response to an assignment I was given. Guy, go do this chore. “No fair!” That would be my complaint. As if the no fair shield could in someway prevent me from doing any household chores or work. Too bad, life is not fair, just go do it. So disgruntled and upset, I would just bow my head and go mutter my way through a half hearted lackluster effort to do the chore all the while muttering to myself about fairness, equity, and equality.

Now I see this pattern in my own children. One of them even, over time, has made the mistake of phrasing it wrong. She started copying her brother at a young age. He would say, that’s not fair! Over time this got shortened to, not fair! My daughter, misunderstanding the concept started to yell out the phrase, “too fair!” So when we ask her to do something she would say, too fair, which we would agree and leave her to her task. She would be perplexed as to why we would agree and still require her to do the work.

The point is that my children has the same response that I do when I have to do something hard. My first response is to use the fairness doctrine as a way to try to excuse my way out of the task. It is not fair! This is not fair! Why do I have to do it the hard way! Why do others have it easier! Why could I not get the easy path! I am not being treated fairly! I really cannot complain to my mom anymore, well, check that. I probably could complain to my mom, but just like when I was 5, it will not do me any good. So the only person that I can complain to is God. I whine to God that it is not fair, and just like my mom’s response, there is a feeling of a slight amount of pity with a shrug of a shoulder and the concept back, “yup, it is not fair, too bad, life is not fair, go do it anyway.”

So we all have to overcome the fairness hurdle. We are so quick to point out where things are not fair, not equitable, not equal. We are masters at it. We like to work on it, consider it, study it, categorize it and even philosophize about it. We create mission statements dedicated to it. In the case of recent events, we mobilize and organize around it. I think at some level the pursuit of equity and fairness is a noble thing and perhaps we need to set the playing field a bit now and then. However, there is one thing that I know is true. We simply cannot sit around, in our lifetime, and wait around for society to make it fair for us. If you are waiting for that to happen, then you are going to be waiting a very long time. You do not want your epitaph to read, “still waiting for things to be fair.”

Well I suppose that is the only one fair thing. We will all die. There is no way around that one. We are all, rich or poor, old or young, thin or fat, black or white, Christian or Muslim going to die. We are all born naked and screaming and we all going to go to the grave and return to ashes. So there you have it, I guess life in it’s beginning and end is pretty fair. However, I am afraid that is the only equalizer in this equation. Everything in between is one unfair thing after another. So I guess we better get used to it and work with the cards we have been dealt. No sense in sitting around bellyaching about how unfair life is. We all just have to get up, dust ourselves off and do the best we can.

So I have to check myself constantly. I am always reverting back to the 5 year old mind and whining that things are not fair, and therefore I have an excuse to not do it. Imagine if I sat around and said my work life is not fair, and therefore I might as well give up. I cannot think of one fair thing in my job! Nothing is fair, it is one big competition. Better to just accept the reality of it and do the best you can. Complaining about fairness is just a giant colossal time waste. It did not work on your mom, it does not work with God and society sure enough does not care!

Guy Reams

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