Our standards are different
One of the things that still shocks me, is that people hold wildly different standards of fairness and justice to me. I’m not talking about the difference in standard between me and a billionaire or me and a right winger, or me and a terrorist (that’s a whole other blog). I’m talking about the difference between me and people my age, my class and from my community. I’m not sure why it surprises me so much. After 39 years on the planet, it’s a lesson I should have learned by now. I guess I just think that because I’m a decent enough human, I should experience decent enough outcomes (hello privilege).
As my late mum and inspiration for the blog always said:
“Life isn’t fair.”
It felt like such a horrible thought. That no matter what, the one thing you can rely on is that life isn’t fair. So, if you’re a good person, it means fuck all because you’re just as likely as a shitty person to experience injustice. We might as well all be completely selfish and have done with it! What about the law of attraction, about putting out good vibes and getting them back? Hate to break it to you, but it’s not as simple as that.
We’re all right. Or wrong?
You see, we all live in our own spheres. Our unique view of the world is our reality and it might be wildly different to the next person. How we view the way we’re treated by other people depends on many factors and what we’re going through in life. If we’re experiencing something traumatic, like a breakup, a job we hate or a family illness, how we’re treated by anyone from our local shopkeeper to our landlord is tainted by our previous and current life experiences.
It makes it difficult to work out what is really fair and what is really just. If we are all operating in our own spheres, and we all have different versions of reality, is it that all injustice we experience is not really real? I know that the odds are against me that I’m always right. I’m human, and not perfect, so there must be times when I’m wrong. Statistically, there must be circumstances where no matter how strongly I think I’ve experienced injustice, I haven’t, and really, the scale of righteousness is swinging in a different direction.
But what about….?!
There are also extenuating circumstances. If someone acts like an arsehole, is it out of malice or is it because of their life experience? Is that breakup or mental illness the reason they can’t see that their actions are abhorrent? Should we give people a pass? Should we be negatively impacted and accept it because they can’t see what they’ve done is shady as fuck? I think there isn’t a one size fits all answer. I know FOR A FACT that for at least 5 years after my mum died, I didn’t care about what was fair or just. I was very angry at the world and that came out in my interactions with friends. It wasn’t a conscious decision at the time. In fact, I was totally blinded to my wrongdoing. It was only after reflection (and therapy) that I put critical thinking to work in my own life; that I turned the mirror on myself.
It’s a privilege that I’m able to do that. Not everyone has the tools to really look at themselves and question if their actions are fair. Which is why you’re unlikely to get a sorry from the person who took advantage of your kindness. The colleague who took credit for your work, the friend who took emotional support and disappeared when they felt better, the people who promise to help you and let you down every time, or the person who ghosts you in favour of new friends.
You know what, my mum was right, (damn you mother!), life isn’t fair. People’s actions and their part in overarching systems mean that we will all be on the receiving end of injustice at times in our lives. I tend to feel the anger deeply and for a long time. But now, powerfully, I don’t accept injustice. I hold people to account and I remove those who can’t see their bad behaviour. This isn’t a knee-jerk, I’ll-hate-you-forever-and-I-rue-the-day-you-were-born scenario, this is an “ok, you showed me who you are, I believe you” situation. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it partly my karma for when I’ve been unfair to people? Probably. Am I safe in the knowledge I’ve examined the situation, critiqued my behaviour and come to a safe assumption that I’m not the arsehole? Yes, I am.
Acknowledging injustice, accepting that people have different frames of reference and different critical thinking skills, examining your own behaviour and flagging injustice when it happens to you are important and will help you deal with the fuckery of life. Is any of this ideal? No. But as a wise woman said, life isn’t fair. I’d add to that by saying that life isn’t fair but you should always try to be.