The Final Answer: Is LIfe Fair?

Approximately 15 men attended the Luck Men’s Discussion Group yesterday.  As I noted in my blog on Wednesday, I was the discussion host and the topic was “Is Life Fair?”  We began with some introductions of a new member who was visiting the area and then Dan the group leader turned the floor over to me.  I introduced the topic by reading the blog I wrote yesterday to the group.  I then asked the group to do a sort of Round Robin where each person takes a turn in answering the topic question. I also asked that each person maybe tell a short story or give some reasons why they thought life was either fair or not.   
I have to note as an aside that the group of men who come to these meetings is a very well educated perhaps upper or at least middle class group of Americans who (at least at this meeting) appeared to all be white older men of Northern European descent.  The fact that this might skew our perceptions on the subject did not go unnoticed by any of the men coming.  Chuck first noted the point that many minorities including Hispanics living in the Southwest and Native Americans might not feel that life was fair and that they would be coming from an entirely different perspective on this issue than we were. With that caveat, it appeared that the group opinion tended towards the “life has been mostly fair to me, but I can see a few instances in my life where it has been unfair and many where it has been unfair to others.  Some comments were:
·       You make your own fairness in life
·       If life were fair I would be a Rockefeller
·       Fair might not be a good term to describe life
·       Maybe we should tell our children that life is fair instead of telling them it is unfair
·       Depends on whose perspective
·       What do we mean by fairness anyway? 
My friend Jerry read a scripture verse on the subject of fairness, which seemed to indicate that fairness was in the eyes of the beholder. What is fair to one person might not seem fair to another.  This verse was followed up by a rather cute story told by Dick about another individual who used bible verses from Leviticus to indict immoral behavior.  This story is worth noting and I have included since though it has been around the Web for a while it is worth remembering.  This is only a partial version of the original story. It is about a letter to Dr. Laura who is an ardent anti-gay advocate. Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a US radio personality and has said that as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 & cannot be condoned under any circumstances.  The respondent wrote as follows:

Dear Dr. Laura,

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and I try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind him that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the specific laws and how to best follow them.

a) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

b) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

c) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

d) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

e) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

As you can see the group discussion was tinged with humor, pathos, insightfulness, self-awareness, tolerance and a sincere desire to better understand the issue of fairness and how it plays out in our lives and the lives of people we deal with.  Dan opined that the real point was not whether life was fair but what do we do about it. He noted that if we sit still while there is bullying or injustice we are as guilty of injustice as those committing the injustice. I still like the quote by Ralph Washington Sockman that: “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority and the test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.”

So Is Life Fair or Not?

I noticed that the question and discussion started running out of steam at about the time the donuts and cookies I brought had started to disappear. Upon Jerry’s suggestion I visited the Frederic Bakery, which I might add has the best donuts in Minnesota or Wisconsin and I purchased a dozen donuts and a dozen cookies to bring to the men’s’ discussion group.  After the discussion was ended, I think I received more compliments on the donuts then I did on the discussion topic or at least as many.  I wonder what this says about life.  Maybe my next discussion topic should be “How important are donuts to the meaning of life, love and political discussion?”

Has your life been fair?  How would you answer this question? Do you think life is fair for everyone or is fairness somewhat inadequately proportioned among the earths’ people? What do you do about unfairness and injustice and bullying? Do your stand up for the rights of others? For minorities? If not what holds you back?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Corny
    May 25, 2012 @ 13:25:05

    I'll pretend I was a man for a day and asked to tell a little story about “is life fair?” My neighbors and friends growing up were a very large family, poorer than we were–we sometimes had meat; they ate catsup sandwiches. So I thought, not fair, that Lulu and Donny have less than I do. So my young mind figured it out–life had to be fair over the whole lifetime, so I concluded that when we grew up, Lulu and Donny would have more than me, and it would all work out. This is probably why I think with every flood and earthquake and tornado, “life isn't fair–I have so much more of everything than so many people in the world.”



  2. John Persico
    May 25, 2012 @ 19:23:09

    Good Story Carolyn, What happened to Lulu and Donny? You left me hanging?



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