Monday, March 26, 2012

Revisiting Fairness

Last month (since these blog entries have slogged to being monthly) I wondered and whined a bit about not deserving my cancer given the not-too-bad care that I had taken of my body, diet, etc. I pondered this within the context of considering faith and acts on outcomes.
While I may have trouble understanding how I deserve the "bad" (cancer) that has come to me – I am equally at a loss to justify how it is that I merit the bounty of wonderful good that I have been blessed with in this life. Our perception of what is just in life is so conveniently twisted.
My 5-year-olds invoke fairness all the time. They probably say "that's not fair!" in various situations more than 10 times a day between them. I don't know if an expectation of fairness is something we instilled in them or is "natural" (i.e., in-born). As it turns out, they don't yet (?) really understand what fair is, they just think that they know injustice when they see it. Come to think of it…maybe they got that from their dad. Or is that too, a universal of sorts – human nature? They misapply the notion as often as not. Even cutting a deck of cards to decide who gets to go first – which is a pretty fair way (in the sense of random, anyway) to make such a decision, I think – ends up deemed unfair by the one that ends up second.
There is a childlike longing for a cosmic justice system in all of us. We want to believe that we get rewards for our goodness, that we "earn" something. It's assuring to think that instant karma works both ways and that it's gonna get you a bonus too. Life repeatedly heaps on the evidence that it doesn't work that way. There was never any assurance that life is fair or causative. What is it in us that refuse to allow us to let go of this scales of justice perspective?
We can try to create that justice as much as we can in a world whose circumstances are mostly beyond our control. Or we might choose to develop the spiritual fortitude to weather the inevitable setbacks and tragedies that inexplicably come our way. In this sometimes gray world, the most fruitful truth may be found in a healthy dose of both – actively creating justice and accepting the inescapable. Like "The Serenity Prayer" says: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Ultimately, the trick is having the courage to bring a little relief and justice whenever we can, and the wisdom to hunker down with your God in the faith of a better day tomorrow when you can't.
In the end, life is not fair – which can, in itself, be a good or bad thing. In the same way that we cannot understand how God can "allow" this or that tragedy to befall anyone, we cannot know what lies behind God's grace either. It makes no sense (to us).
Still, on that plus side, I humbly thank God for the fantastic life that I have been blessed with every day. More good than I could have ever earned. It's a personal heaven right here and now.