Play Fair. (And pun of the day)

Once in Africa there lived a king who was extremely popular with his people. One year on his birthday they gave him a gilded, ivory throne. The king loved it but didn’t know what to do with his old throne, so he just put it in the attic. One day while he was sitting on his new throne, the old throne fell through the attic and killed him.

The moral to the story: People who live in grass houses shouldn’t stow thrones.

Does it seem fair to you that if the king hadn’t been a good king he wouldn’t have gotten a new throne and might still be alive?

OK That’s a stretch, but I want to talk about fairness.

As I watch my grandchildren play, one of the most often heard phrases is “That’s not fair!” All children seem at first blush to be obsessed with fairness, until you observe more closely and discover that when a child benefits from an unfair distribution, there is never any complaint.

Adults are very much like that. No one complains when good things happen to them, but get sick, lose a job, end a relationship and it’s “Why me?” and “It’s not fair.”

(Kris Kristofferson wrote a song pointing this out.)

The bottom line, of course, is that life isn’t fair. You can’t possibly think that all of the victims of natural disasters somehow deserved what happened to them. Or that the fortunate are somehow deserving and the not so fortunate deserving of their misfortune.  “The rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Life simply is not fair. The question then is why so many of us are surprised when we discover this truth. After giving this much thought, I have concluded it’s because while we are growing up, our parents urge us to be fair, and play fair. Somehow we get the idea that fair is the norm.

So what are we to do? My suggestion is to be fair. If everyone tried to be fair to others, rather than complaining when they are treated unfairly, we wouldn’t make life fair, but we would at least reduce the unfairness in the world and, I suggest, be much happier.


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