Saturday, July 19, 2008

It’s so unfair!

A little child is raped and tortured.
Crystal Meth causes the death of a four-year-old.
A “good” family is killed by a drunk driver.
A young man suffers permanent brain damage.
A mother of four young children drowns in the lake

It’s all so unfair!

That sounds right, but is it unfair? Sure it’s sad, tragic, unfortunate, devastating, too bad, and sometimes criminal. These events are all difficult for the families involved - but unfair? On what basis is the rape of a child unfair? Certainly it’s wrong, infuriating, terrible and yes criminal. But from the perspective of life as life goes, is it really unfair? Who says that one family’s house shouldn’t collapse on top of them while their neighbour’s house remains standing? Why is falling or being shot or having a virus destroy one’s heart unjust? By whose rules are we saying these things shouldn’t happen? Who has declared that bad things, even criminal things shouldn’t happen to us? Who has declared that my life should be free of tragedy? Saying that life is unfair implies that when bad things happen, it Someone's fault. If one goes by the law of averages as that law applies to the six billion or so individuals on planet earth it would seem to me that what’s unusual, out of character, unfair if you will, is when GOOD things happen to anyone. And certainly those who have been whacked by tragedy are prone to say things like, “Why not him? Why didn’t he lose his house? Why didn’t his kid die along with mine?” Some people’s lives seem to entail no suffering at all. Do they cry “foul” “no fair” “stop - please stop?” Do I complain that I throw away more food than some people eat? Do I complain because I can walk, while many don’t have legs at all? Whose fault is it when good things happen to me, because really, it isn’t fair?

The problem with calling life unfair isn’t too difficult to understand. Take games for instance. We know what the rules are. We know when someone breaks the rules and when they’re caught we protest, “That’s not fair.” In politics, education, commerce, even in relationships we have a pretty good idea how these things should work and we know very well when they don’t work in our favour. But when it comes to life in general, things aren’t so clear.

A growing number of people boldly state, “there’s no such thing as right or wrong behaviours.” These people observe the seemingly impartial workings of the universe and try to extrapolate that to the workings of their own lives. Most people in the world still have enough sense to see the silliness in that claim but, like I say, as atheism and apatheism gain ground, relational stupidity increases it’s grip on society. I mean, if I were to clean out the moral subjectivist’s bank account or steal her child, odds are pretty good that she’d soon change her opinion about there not being any wrong behaviours. On the other hand, in the absence of wrong being done to them, the moral subjectivist is quite able to deceive h/herself into thinking that s/he is not capable of doing wrong to others. What these people are really trying to create is a world in which there won’t be any rules of right and wrong regarding how they run their lives.

There are amusing variations on this theme. For example, just two weeks ago I saw a T-shirt that said, “My Life - My Rules.” Apparently this person has admitted that there might actually be some rules to life but he and he alone will determine what those rules aught to be. Another T-shirt, this one on a thirteen-year-old girl declared that she was “Lawless.” Again, she acknowledged that rules exist. However, according to her shirt, she was determined to break them or at least not be bound by them. I’ve heard some say that everything is an illusion. To these people there might SEEM to be rules but whatever rules we see, they’re all pretend.

My point is, for all those who say life isn’t fair - well, says who? Is that an admission that there is a Supreme Rule Giver and that things aren't going according to His plan? Because if there isn't a Supreme Rule Giver then you might think A but your neighbour might think B and low and behold, your neighbour is just as right as you are. In a world without a Supreme Rule Giver, Might really is Right. In a world without a Supreme Rule Giver, what's right is determined by the Party voted into power with the most votes. So where is it written that life should be this way but not that way? Where are you getting your idea that your child shouldn't be abducted and killed while your neighbour's child sleeps safely through the night? If this life is all there is, then what we see is what we get and it’s no body’s business to complain about anything. Life happens.

On the other hand, Jesus said that life is entirely fair. He said that God is just and fair and merciful and compassionate and full of grace and abounding in love. But how could that be? Look at all the injustice and corruption! Well, notice that Jesus says, “life” is fair. He means all of life - not just life on earth. You see, this portion of our lives is minuscule compared to the infinitely larger portion yet to come. Like three or four-year-old children, we adults seem incapable of focusing on anymore than the “moment” of this existence on earth. Like small children, we can’t see the big picture. And for many, it seems impossible that it will all turn out alright. God assures us that no one is going to get away with anything. God's love is just and His justice is loving. In the end it will all work out.

My advice is that if you don’t believe in God, shut your pie hole when it comes to complaining about how unfair life is. If there is no God then there’s no rules save your own. If there’s no God then rules or concepts like fair or unfair truly are an illusion.

On the other hand, if Jesus is correct, and He would know, those of us who are His followers can also remain silent because all is well. Life will work out. Life is fair.

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