Out of this core belief our religions, social systems and conventions have been based. Actions, interventions and systems are designed and judged around this basic principle. Concepts such as karma, the golden rule and the final judgement are understood to be based on fairness, just as the evil character always gets his comeuppance in the film.
Psychologists have demonstrated over and over again the power of reciprocity. People would rather be paid less, if it means they get equality. This century the idea of fairness has been at the core of anti-discrimination in all of it’s forms.
And so naturally every child wails to it’s Parent’s ‘it’s not fair’. Every pupil remonstrates to the Teacher that their treatment is unfair. Worker’s gather in Unions to fight injustice. Demonstrators march and Politician’s appeal to a sense of fairness.
But guess what?
There Is No Law Of Fairness.
The world does not operate on fairness, equality or justice. And it is the futility of wanting fairness in an unfair world that causes much of the stress that we suffer.
The problem is that we are a little like an Alien landing here and having to make sense of what we see and hear. Often we come to only get part of the picture and so make flawed assumptions. Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual (unless you are a religious fundamentalist) and so we have to develop our understanding as we go. Like Scientists.
We can be fairly certain that there is a Law of Gravity. It applies everywhere on our planet. There is no recorded evidence to refute this. It is universal, constant and cannot be defied or broken. Well unless you artificially create your own coccon.
And unlike every form of legislation or doctrine, it does not change. And it listens not to our appeals. It would be ridiculous to consider the idea.
Therefore we can confidently say, it is an immutable Law of nature.
But we only have to look around us every single day to realise that there is no innate Law of Fairness. Yet at the root of every stressful incident, there is a plea to those with the power to judge or ultimately to God, to apply the Law of Fairness. Every court, every public or private appeal to plea for your case is based on the idea that if people agree, then fairness is right and so circumstances will change.
But life just goes on rocking the boat. Again and again.
Clearly the fact that you and I, have been born in relative luxury, whilst others are born orphaned, diseased and starving demonstrates that God, or the universe, has no interest in fairness.
The fact that some people can cheat, lie and steal to their hearts content without being struck down, while others can live as Saints and still suffer dreadful hardship ought to demonstrate that there is no natural law of fairness.
That a helpless young Antelope can be devoured by a huge hungry Lion shows graphically, time after time, that there is no fairness in nature.
Yet still we hold onto our cherished hope that there is some fairness and justice.
Because it is the last bastion of the ego. It is the final suport of the desire to be right over being happy. It is the final illussion that keeps us separated from each other. Because fairness implies equality. And equality must mean that we are separate.
I have two children. And I cannot manage to be fair to them. Because fairness is subjective. It’s sneaky, manipulative and can be changed depending on which side of the fence you are on.
The Law of Fairness is not God’s Law, but Man’s. Man made it because he was afraid of the power of nature and so needed protection from a benevolent force greater than him.
be in this world, but not of it.
Part of what he meant was not to rely on fairness from the rules of this world. Instead one should seek to understand and be at one with Life. Don’t appeal to humanity for fairness. Which is really about wanting the outside world to match up with the way you think it should be.
It’s not really fairness that people want. When they are top of the beautiful people list or given the Pullitzer prize they are not seeking equality. In those times they believe their innate genetics, their skill, talent and hard work make them better. It is only in those times when we fall, when we hurt that we seek fairness and equality.
Do as Jesus did. He did not appeal to the Roman Governor for fairness. Even when it could have saved his life. Instead he said, ‘Father, let it not be my will, but yours’.
It was in relating to my kids, that I recognised that fairness is a ridiculous notion. We are all unique. All with different thoughts, feelings, capabilities and needs.
Yet fairness demands that we treat them the same. To do so, would be like taking a range of different sized drinking glasses and pouring the same amount in each. The thimble sized one will overflow and the pint sized will have little.
Fairness and equality, if they could be achieved, would lead to homogenity, which would lead to stagnation. Life depends on polarisation. The wider apart the extremes, the more vibrant life is.
Let’s take an extreme example. Assume Men and Women were made to be equal in every way. Within a generation, life could not recreate itself.
God has no goal for you other than the pure experience of life. And each of us has a different intention to experience. Some want to climb huge mountains, real and symbolic. Some want to have everything and face the challenge of complacency, arrogance and greed.
There is indeed a universal natural Law that governs us. But it is much greater than we can comprehend and it lasts well beyond our petty and temporary concerns. It is the desire to fight against what is, to appeal and justify that makes it difficult to forgive, to let things drop and to just be.
Whenever you find yourself feeling stressed and find it hard to let go, to be at peace, it is always because on some level you are seeking fairness.
What is, is what is. Seeking fairness is a completely wasted pursuit. By all means seek to redress injustice, by improving systems, policies and philosophies. But never in the appeal to the Law of Fairness.
Advanced Stress Management Guide Contents
What Is Stress?
What Are The Costs of Stress?
What Are The Effects of Stress?
What Are The Causes of Stress?
How Do People Generally Cope With Stress?
The Mindset Shift: It’s Ok To Be Stressed, But Get Over It Quickly
The Secret To Emotional Stress Management
Reduce Stress And Avoid The Stress Tax
How To Deal With Stress
The Way To Relieve Stress
The Law Of Fairness
Pyrrhic Victory And The Value Of Losing