I was recently having a very interesting conversation with a friend when the subject of fairness came up. Fairness, which seems like a value that most of us would hold dear, evolved into a philosophical discussion that not only surprised me but led to a deeper insight about the inside-out nature of life.
Fairness had been a cornerstone of my friend’s position both in business and in his personal life. However, in the past few years, his faith in a “fair deal” had been challenged in business, and he had sadly come to the conclusion that life was “not fair.”
As the conversation unfolded it became more and more obvious that life might appear to be unfair. Life, as they say, is a contact sport. Life happens.
The first insight came when I realized that we have all created an idea about what is fair. Fair might be when we all live long and healthy lives, or when we achieve success in our personal or career endeavours. Fair might be when everyone we love is safe and happy. The list goes on about what we may see as fair.
More importantly, life may seem unfair when any of those expectations aren’t met.
Unfortunately, so many of life’s events are beyond our control. We can’t always control the safety of our loved ones. We can’t always control the outcome of the marketplace. Heaven knows, we can’t control the earthquakes, tsunamis, or floods that nature sends our way. The only thing we have any control over is our choices in the moment — how we will respond in the face of life unfolding.
In our innocence we’ve internalized the thinking of our culture and families, and in doing so created an experience that seems to be dependent on outside events, i.e. an outside-in life. We’ve created a “fair-unfair” model. With this perception of life events we can often feel like a victim at the whim of life. But this is not so.
Life is simply unfolding in every moment of every day.
That’s where I found my second aha moment. We all have within us the most profound degree of resilience, wisdom and compassion to face whatever life brings us. We all have the potential to create forgiveness, love and fairness in every moment in our own lives, regardless of circumstances. Now that seems fair.