Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'm lazy,so I'm posting something I've done elsewhere. The following is a piece I wrote for an online forum group that was given the prompt, "Fair? You want fair?" It started out as a dialogue between characters having an argument about the fairness of life, but it sounded so full of cliches that I scrapped it. Then I read a piece by Margaret Atwood that got me thinking of trying it as an assertion rather than a question. This eventually led me to try writing it in the second person. I almost never write in the second person. But here it is.

Fair. You want fair? Of course you do. Everyone does.

All your life you’ve been told to be fair, play fair, act fair, and you expect fairness in return. You build your life around being fair. You speckle your speech with statements like “to be fair,” it’s only fair,” “in all fairness”.

You build a fairness cocoon around yourself. It envelops you and all those around you.

The cocoon is layered with all the fairness you’ve spun in careful, cobwebby threads over the course of a lifetime. It’s a glowing, shimmery fuzz ball of goodness and light. It must be good because in your mind, fair equals good.

Using an invisible scale, you balance how much love, goodwill, and self to allocate to friends, family, charities, causes good and maybe not so good. You take your cue from a friend who donates to charities that support all the major body organs – heart, lung, kidneys, liver, brain (it’s only fair).

You do your best - giving equal time to your children and spouse - but, in all fairness, the children do require more attention when they’re young and time can always be made up to your spouse later on. You tell yourself it balances out in the end. You give similar Christmas gifts to your friends, so none will feel slighted. But wait. They don’t want the same things. So you do the next best thing. Buy gifts of equal dollar value. But then, Sally thinks Jane’s gift is nicer and Jane wonders if you could please give her the receipt for the scarf so she can exchange it for a different colour. And of course, you tell her you’re happy with the souvenir T-shirt from Las Vegas. Who wouldn’t be? To say anything less would be rude, and it wouldn’t be fair to hurt her feelings.

You mete out fairness to the best of your ability. But like Halloween candy, you notice that a little extra always goes to your best friend’s son or the cute little boy next door. You find out Auntie Nina really didn’t want the same amount of turkey dressing as Uncle Joe, and Val will never be happy with what she gets because nothing is ever good enough.

There are times when people tell you that you’re unfair. This, you know, is incorrect. You know you are fair because you have rules that govern your fairness. You abide by the Golden Rule. Do unto others, et cetera. Nothing could be more fair.

You await fairness in return.

But fairness doesn’t always come your way. You wait patiently in line for your turn, but get shoved out of the way by a shouting complainer. You work hard and sacrifice time away from your family, but get laid off to make way for the boss’s son. You treat women with respect and kindness, but they go for the douche-bag who treats them with disdain.

You start to think that maybe life isn’t fair. At least, that’s what others tell you. Life isn’t fair. Get used to it. But maybe it’s not that life isn’t fair. It’s just that everyone plays by different rules. They don’t play by your golden rule. They have their own fairness rules. An eye for an eye, whoever wields the biggest stick wins, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, all’s fair in love and war – these are fairness rules too.

You don’t believe their rules. You can’t believe them. So you continue following your own rules; you continue wrapping yourself and those around you in your fairness cocoon because it makes you feel good. You bask, warm and cozy in your fairness cocoon. Perhaps, if it grows big enough and long enough, it will burst forth in a gigantic, multi-coloured butterfly; wings unfurling, beating back all the unfairness and inequity that still exists.

Meanwhile, you hope your cocoon will keep you safe against the cold, sharp barbs of unfairness flung from afar and not so far. It doesn’t always work. Occasionally, a dark lance will slice through, its point searching for your heart.

Maybe life isn’t fair. Maybe it’s not meant to be fair, but you keep trying to be fair anyways. What else can you do?

Here's my Golden Rule for a tarnished age: Be fair with others, but keep after them until they're fair with you. - Alan Alda

1 comment:

daringtowrite said...

Sounds fair to me!

(my word verification prompt, btw, is dingskin -- sounds like a writing prompt:))