That's Not Fair

I saw some news this morning and immediately thought “that is not fair.”

And then I reminded myself that life is not fair.

Of course we all wish that life would be fair. It should be fair.

But it just isn’t and if you go through life wanting it to be fair, you are just setting yourself up for a lot of disappointment.

All of that said, I have found life to be more fair over the long run. Things tend to even out over longer time frames.

But in the short run, we have to be prepared to get the short end of the stick and then figure out how to make that a winning hand anyway.


Comments (Archived):

  1. John Pepper

    Sometimes the long run feels very, very long. But like you say, you just keep focused on doing what’s right and you may end up with a winning hand… though even then there are no guarantees. Keep going anyway.

  2. John Francis Charles

    When life gives you lemons . . .

    1. Joe Marchese

      … get salt and tequila.

  3. Vendita Auto

    Made me smile today:”Writing’s on the buoy “Think or Swim” Protest placard, New York City`”

    1. Girish Mehta

      That’s funny.

      1. Vendita Auto

        Hmmm not sure might write with a lisp !!

  4. Dan T

    I told my kids they were not allowed to say TNF – treated it like a “cuss word”.

    1. Susan Rubinsky

      From when my son was about nine or ten, I taught him a process I call “Solutions Based Thinking.” Complaints and apologies were never acceptable in our household. The only acceptable way to broach a topic where there was a mistake or a failure was to fess up and offer a possible solution. It even was ok to state the problem and say, “I need some help figuring out a solution.”

  5. Girish Mehta

    I have not known anybody who “expected” life to be fair, and who was happy.There is nothing to suggest that life should be fair. Nature has no concept of fair or unfair – whether in the short run or the long run. Ever so often, Nature reminds us that we are a part of it.Then, separate from Nature, there are human-created systems of unfairness. Do not accept those ever.At a personally-actionable level:(1) – Do not expect fairness from life, and (2) – Try to treat others fairly.Do #1 and #2 together. Do not do this to be a virtuous person, whatever that means. Do it to be happy.

  6. jason wright

    Has the new NBA season started already?

    1. Mac

      Ha!! Indubitably.

  7. Tom Labus

    Here’s wishing you the bluest skyAnd hoping something better comes tomorrowHoping all the verses rhymeAnd the very best of choruses to followFollow all the doubt and sadnessI know that better things are on the wayHere’s hoping all the days aheadWon’t be as bitter as the ones behind youBe an optimist insteadAnd somehow happiness will find youRay Davies, Kinks

    1. Girish Mehta

      The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile at the other’s welcome,and say, sit here. Eat. You will love again the stranger who was your self.Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved youall your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by heart. Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.- Derek Walcott, Love after Love.

  8. Mitch Kline

    My adult children told me some of the best advice I ever gave them when they were young was, “life is not fair get over it. It is how you deal with it that matters.” (They did not like it at the time). Hold true today.

    1. BSchildt

      My dad told me that life was not fair whenever I said, “That’s not fair.” It was great advice and I’ve been giving the same advice to my 8 year old son since he started saying it.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      Whenever my son would complain about something when he was growing up, I always asked, “So, what are you going to do about it?”

  9. JLM

    .It seems so adolescent to bemoan our fate as it relates to such an obviously illogical concept as basic fairness. Frankly, it seems unmanly.It is like the notion that all men are created equal. They are not.There is only one truly fair or equal resource in the world — TIME. We all get 24 hours. Regardless of who you are, where you are, how wealthy you are — we all get 24 hours in every day. The test of life is how you use those 24 hours.If one takes up the mantle of fundamental unfairness, one is motivated to make that concept work to their own benefit. I have always sought the unfair advantage for me. I want to be the guy with the long end of the stick and I’m not going to piss into the wind complaining about the “unfairness” of life.In business and other endeavors seek to be the one with the unfair advantage. Get up earlier, work later, work harder, work smarter, spend an hour every day (this is the one nobody ever really does) learning your trade/enhancing your skills/studying your industry, work through lunch a day every week, and earn the world’s juju (mojo, lagniappe).Be the fairness in the world that you think it lacks. Like almost everything in life — what you sow, you shall reap.Don’t take shit personally. Never explain. Never complain.The world is 2% doers, 2% people talking about doing stuff, and 96% bullshitters/innocent bystanders.Stop being such a whiny bitch and accept the world as it really is. Own your own story.Sorry. That was unfair.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Richard

      You can’t spell American with CAN.

    2. Chimpwithcans

      The big fly that dunks itself into this virtue based ointment is expectation. A Maasai on the plains of the Serengeti has watched the Kardashians buy a house and knows what the latest pair of Air Jordans looks like. There’s no way in this Galaxy that those should be her reference points for life, but most often they are.

      1. JLM

        .I wonder if our beaming the Kardashians to the world is an act of moral war? Maybe just war.I once had occasion to be in a foreign country in the countryside in the 1980s. It was a small village.An oldish man — gnarled, the entire press of a hard life in his face and his gait — saw that I was an American and came up to me and shook my hand. He took my single hand in both of his and shook it up and down vigorously. Repeatedly.Then, he ran inside his very clean, but humble abode and returned with a sack that had once held flour.In a longish conversation that went through a not-so-good translator, he explained to me that the flour sack’s contents had allowed his family to live, literally survive after WWII.The sack was stenciled with words that established it had been part of the Marshall Plan (Economic Recovery Act 1948).I held that sack as he cried and kept saying “America” over and over.It may have been the proudest moment I ever experienced being an American.I tried to tell him that Geo Marshall and I went to the same school, but I am not sure the translator got the message across because everybody was so overwrought with emotion.A small crowd gathered and I was personally given the entire credit for the superlative performance of Marshall and American foreign policy. I may even have been credit for having won World War II, but the translation was very weak.It is amazing what people who are outside the big cities and beyond the range of propaganda think of the USA.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  10. DJL

    If you want a lesson in “not fair” – spend some time in Family court. It is the biggest, most damaging financial scam in history. There is no justice – just lawyers making money so they can donate to family judges. And the children suffer. I feel so sad for anyone who goes through it. The movie Divorce Incorporated tells it perfectly.

    1. Richard

      The courts exist to ensure the rule of law not fairness.

      1. DJL

        Family law is full of subjective concepts like “for the benefit of the children.” Whoever has the lawyer who knows the judge wins.

        1. Richard

          Judges have preferences not biases. My advice – particularly when it comes to one’s children – is take a week off and sit in the judges courtroom and create a story based on the judges preferences.

    2. SFG

      When two people choose to not get along, and then hire the court system to solve their problems, how can anyone expect the process anything but difficult? Even if the system was re-engineered in some way, the same vindictive, drama-seeking individuals would find a way to make it a cluster fuck.

    3. Susan Rubinsky

      This is why mediated divorce is the way to go. My ex and I paid a flat rate of $3500 for a mediator lawyer, did all the hard discussions over lunch out at a restaurant a few times a month during the process (being out at a restaurant is the perfect setting for being cordial) so that we’d go to each meeting with our lawyer with agreement on the answers to the next set of questions so we didn’t waste our lawyer’s time (there was a time cap on the flat rate). We even went to court together without our lawyer on the final divorce day — we were the only case like that there. The judge processed our case first then told everyone in the room that our case was the way to handle divorce in the way that is best for the child. Divorce and disagreement is not fun, but the way that you choose to handle it makes all the difference in the world.

      1. DJL

        I agree 100%. That works well when there are two sane spouses who want to work together. When one goes off the rails, all bets are off. The attorneys become weapons of mass destruction. The kids suffer. And yet this happens thousands of times a year.

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          I know. When I hear some of the stories from the guys that I date and some of my friends, it’s mind-blowing.

          1. DJL

            It’s like a secret club you don’t want to belong to, and then you realize there are lots of other people in the club! Congrats to you guys for doing it right.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        I don’t understand:(1) Obviously the main goal of life is to have a good life.(2) Nearly as obviously a good life requires a good marriage, a “bonding”, partnership, two becoming one, the advantages of the strong, trusted coalition for life. The term has to be for life since otherwise the investment is not justified.(3) A divorce shoots the goal of a good life in the gut and limits how good the rest of life can be. In particular, a lot of the investment has to be written off as worthless instead of planned great foundations of a great life.(4) Given (1)-(3), I don’t see why people get divorced.I nearly got divorced: What happened? She was convinced to the center of the cells at the center of her bone marrow, beyond all rationality or reality, that she should pursue her “own life” essentially as an independent person but at times deceiving and exploiting others. It was a disaster for her: Out there alone she kept trying and trying and trying to make her techniques of independence, deception, manipulation work; life got worse and worse and worse; finally she gave up and ended her life.I thought that Darwin had long since solved such problems. Finally I had to conclude that at times Darwin found reproductive advantage in some cases of irrational thinking and behavior.Still, I don’t see it, don’t really see why people, at least why so many people, get divorced. What is it they don’t see about (1)-(3)? So, explain it to me?

  11. Richard

    There is unfairness and there is Shadenfraude. Don’t be a Shadenfraude. Jewish or not, today is a day to reflect on the lives of six million Jewish women children and men who were gassed, burned and cremated by the Nazi regime, simply for being Jewish.Just a few years ago, we lost the last witness to the death camp Triblenka, where 2 million polish Jews were shot and gassed. Let’s pray history doesn’t Rhyme – but ignorance is a robust seed.

  12. VincentWright

    Why perpetuate such a stupid concept as that of “life is not fair.”, Fred?If life weren’t fair, intelligence, education, hard work, creativity, and hope would be useless.Love, itself, would be useless.I’d wager that I’ve lost a greater percentage of value in life than anyone else likely to participate in this thread of yours.However,Life never stole my intellectual assets … nor anything else from me.Life never lied to meLife never lied about me.Life never conspired about me.Life never poisoned my body.But, PEOPLE did…Individual people did.SPECIFIC, individual people did.I won’t ever forget those specific people.So, even in my current maddening circumstances, I blame specific people … and with every breath I have remaining, I choose to praise the heck out of Life…Life is AMAZING … even when the people part of its creation sucks the natural joy out of you…

    1. JLM

      .May I please have whatever he’s drinking?Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  13. Oil Man

    That’s damn right. Much as life may seem unfair over the short-term, it is damn fair over the long-term. Thanks for putting this out so well!

  14. JLM

    .Life is the collision of expectations and reality.Expect the best in all things. You never get what you deserve or expect — you get what you negotiate.Plan for the worst in all things. You will then never be surprised.Everybody has to grow the fuck up.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  15. Pointsandfigures


  16. JLM

    .Let us agree to disagree.Every minute of every day, we negotiate with ourselves as we decide what to do, how to do it, with whom to do it, how much pain to bear, how much sunshine to inject into the world.From a broader perspective, the ability to negotiate — with ourselves and others — is a critical skill.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  17. JLM

    .I wasn’t talking to you, Dude.People do categorize the results as being “unfair.” Somebody comes to your house, they see it. What they never see is the struggle it took to get it.Equality is only relevant at the starting line, not the finish line.But, as I am inclusive by nature — stop being such a whiny bitch breadmaker.Man the fuck up.I like my bread — pretzel bread.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  18. JLM

    .Same to you, amigo.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  19. Amar

    I agree with Charlie here more than I agree with you 🙂 though unsurprisingly I do agree with you.Categorizing reality as “unfair” is the equivalent of an emotional cocktail and is worth wallowing in for a short time .. because yes reality can be “unfair”… i suspect the hard task is to isolate the “choice” we have and are making in the face of that reality. Self pity never worked and never will.Often the feeling of “unfairness” arises from us learning that the game is rigged. We also typically learn it at the worst possible time and that shocks the system. Like bad news comes on a Friday evening :-)The challenge I have with the “just work harder and whine less” cure is that it does not help with the really unfair shit that happens in life; Cancer, Infidelity, Losing your kid to a DWI a week before graduation, encountering evil in your own home and so much more…… That is where the unfairness really hits home and we realize that it was never meant to be fair…..

  20. Girish Mehta

    + 1 Million to what you said in the last paragraph.

  21. JLM

    .Being very serious. Bad stuff happens to good people. All the time. Always will.The best way to confront it is on our knees, in prayer — not asking for relief, but for strength, grace to overcome it. To give ourselves over to a power that is far greater than any man will ever possess.In time, some of these things will be less stinging, but they will never go away. I do not want them to go away because they flavor me in such a way that I am drawn to the goodness whose loss I selfishly mourn.I have possessed life and death power over others, and been felled while holding a young man in my arms watching the life flow out of him, unable to do anything to forestall it when my only charge was not to allow that to happen.I have stood in that darkness, a darkness so black — made by the subtraction of all color and light — that one cannot imagine that God could allow it to exist.In the soul crushing frustration of that moment, the evil, the darkness — we can only exist if we believe it is part of a plan we do not yet know and that for the world to be in balance there must be some good of equal proportion.That requires us to have faith. That faith propels us from the indeterminable darkness into the light and drives us to do good, perhaps in atonement.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…