In the past couple of months I have been rather perturbed to observe certain questionable situations where another individual explains things by saying “life isn’t fair.”
This irks me. It has always been a pet peeve of mine. Seeing this phrase thrown around so much recently, I’ve tried to look within myself to understand the true reasons why such a blanket argument grates my cheese so much.
My initial issue with using “life isn’t fair” as the pinnacle of one’s argument is the impression that it’s not really an argument at all. It doesn’t provide any adequate explanation of events that can be intelligently weighed against individual experience and knowledge – nor does it provide any viable solutions to a situation. In fact, it seems to be the ultimate acceptance of things, of maintaining the status quo.
The latter part leads to at least two possible perceptions of such an argument – either the person agrees with the current circumstances or is too lazy/apathetic to do anything about it. Now, as I’ve stated in other posts, silence + complacency = permission. By refusing to take action – for whichever reason – you are symbolically saying through your inaction that such circumstances are socially allowable. On the other side, depending on how you view a given situation, you may also agree with the current circumstance and resolve to end a debate/argument with “life isn’t fair” and leave it at that.
Regardless of the reasoning, what still bothers me about use of this phrase is the acceptance that it’s a rational answer to everything. This is what I have found to be the basic reason why it is so disagreeable to me. Not only does it imply that the person using it doesn’t take action, but it also implies a certain amount of idiocy on a person who does take action. Also, what this catch-all argument implies is that we are not actors in our own existence; we are pawns who are affected by circumstances that are always beyond our control as if the actions and behaviors of others that create the platform for a set of circumstances should be completely ignored and said behavior can in no way be influenced one way or the other.
At the risk of sounding snarky, I’m reminded of a Stephen Hawking quote: “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.”
If life’s not fair, such as the way certain people suggest it, then what’s the point in doing anything…say even voting? Life’s not fair so you shouldn’t complain about injustice…sure, because that has nothing to do with the actions and behaviors of others, right? It’s all just part of a grand, mysterious scheme that acts upon all of us instead of “life” actually consisting of a series of dynamic and sometimes symbiotic relationships where action in and of itself is a basic element of our very existence because of the uniqueness of free will.
Now, I will agree that “life isn’t fair” if we are taking the definition of fair to be as it says in the Merriam-Webster dictionary: “a : marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” This would mean that life, being the negative of this definition, is partial and dishonest, NOT free from self-interest, prejudice and favoritism. I can definitely agree with “life isn’t fair” in this instance because what this really suggests is that the circumstances of life – characterized by that which makes us animate (our actions) – is partial, self-interested and prejudiced. And how do we know? Because we can observe it in the behaviors of the very animate beings I’m talking about – HUMANS.
Many humans – and this really does depend on your point of view as to who fits this description – are partial, self-interested and prejudiced. Many of us struggle during our lives in dealing with the biases we have developed from childhood. What’s dangerous is the person who doesn’t recognize it and allows such biases to inform actions that negatively impact others.
Readers, THAT is the problem and the basis of why explaining such things away with “life isn’t fair” is not a valid argument to me.
I still don’t fully understand it. If you can explain the reasoning and support it with any type of empirical evidence as to why this statement should be accepted as valid, please comment…I would really like to understand.