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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

"It's Just Not Fair"

"We have no right to ask, when sorrow comes, 'Why did this happen to me?' unless we ask the same question for every joy that comes our way." Philip S Bernstein

There are certain lessons we learn our whole lives through. Patterns, habits, thoughts and actions we fall into again and again and again and then feel like giving ourselves a smack on the forehead as we think in exasperation (or sometimes despair) "Didn't I learn this last time around?!"

Many of us live under the illusion that life needs to be "fair" to us. When something isn't fair, we experience numerous reactions: childish petulance, outraged hurt, anger or we find ourselves falling into despair, anxiety, fear, a spiral of negative emotions...

When our precious sense of fair is tampered with, we often lash out at others, God, ourselves, in the immaturity of our understanding.

Where does our sense of entitlement come from?

There are many, many things in life, the world and history that aren't fair. Horrendous things happen to good and innocent people and good things happen to misguided, cruel, and evil people. Why are we always surprised anew by this as though the world has always been a haven of fairness and justice and our experience is the first of its kind? Perhaps because we were created with a deep craving for justice? Created with an innate sense of dignity that in a perfect world would always be respected and valued? Or less lofty but worth mentioning, because we are essentially selfish beings who have difficulty rising above a situation that hurts us, looking at it from angles other than "it's unfair"?

It isn't wrong to think things like "Why me?" or "It just isn't fair.". But it can't end there...those thoughts need to be the beginning of a journey toward a broader and more enlightened understanding of the situation. We can choose to step out of the role and mentality of being a perpetual victim and into one of maturity, grace, and acceptance.

I think that overcoming the idea of unfairness is a lifelong battle. I didn't think it was fair for example when shortly after learning my husband and I would never have biological children, I read a story in the newspaper announcing that Karla Homolka was pregnant. (For those of you unfamiliar with the name, she and her husband together raped, tortured and murdered many teen age girls and women, her own sister among them.) That is when the absurdidty of it struck me most intensely. I had been telling myself that I didn't deserve children, I wasn't fit to be a mother, all sorts of hurtful, self destructive things to be able to bear my own feeling of it being unfair. It struck me reading this piece of news that if Karla Homolka can get pregnant and have a baby, then fairness really has nothing to do with it and obviously neither then did the notion that I somehow wasn't fit to be a mother.

Eventually I reached a place where fair and unfair took on different and more perspective definitions. As we progressed in our first adoption journey, I came to understand fair is a bigger picture than what I can see and's so subjective. Instead of thinking "Why us? Why will we never have children of our own?" I slowly began to think "Why anybody? Why this mother in Sri Lanka who has to give up her child? Why this little boy? Why this hurting broken country?" None of it is really fair. The issue was so much larger than my initial "why me". I believe there are answers and most of the time the struggle is simply to think outside of ourselves. Let go of our sense of fair.