“That’s Not Fair!”

When I was small, I had a super-sized sense of fairness. Maybe because I was the youngest child, maybe because I was very shy and not very pretty. I remember many times when I informed the world at large, “That’s not fair!”

Having heard John Kennedy say “Life isn’t fair, but government should be,” in the early 1960s, my mother grasped onto the first half of the sentence. When I railed about some injustice, and squealed, “Life isn’t fair!” Her standard reply was “Life isn’t fair,” or, if she was in a slightly better mood, “Who said life had to be fair?”

I was writing in my journal yesterday morning, recounting something that is grinding away at me, when I wrote, “This just isn’t fair.”

And completely out of the blue, without knowing what I was going to write next, I wrote, “Life’s not fair, but YOU can be.” I have no idea where it came from, but it made a huge amount of sense the instant I wrote it.

I can be fair. I can let the person who saw the parking space first have it, even if I got there first. I can acknowledge great ideas, even if they aren’t mine. I can let the person with a few items step ahead of me in the grocery line. I can be fair even if life isn’t. I can change the fairness aura around me. I can make my space, my house, my car fair. Even if the rest of the world isn’t, I can make my small corner of it fair. What a concept! Maybe, just maybe, it can spread.

-Quinn McDonald is a writer, life– and creativity coach. She helps people adjust to change in an unfair world.

7 thoughts on ““That’s Not Fair!”

  1. Quinn, what a fenomenal positive and free way of looking at this! Thank you Quinn for sharing your view on this.
    I feel really good and relieved :))

    I am going to bed now with a big smile on my face,


  2. Yes indeed, but those are consequences of decisions and choices and events. I was more referring to the spiritual ideas that Oprah spoke about in some of her shows. Like for example my father was traumatized by what happened to him in the Second World War, which involuntarily traumatized me to a certain extend which somehow made me a bit more able to cope with very hard and painful situations in
    my life now.
    Yes these are consequences but what has happened to my father did not happen for any reason in my opinion.
    But then what do I know?

    • What happened to your father was the consequence of someone else’s greed or avarice–wars usually are. Your father suffered through no fault of his own, and so did you. The benefit comes from your own creativity shaping what happened to you into something useful.

  3. Beautiful post Quinn. Inspiring too.

    “Life is not fair” somehow is more acceptable to me than “Things happen for a reason”.

    Just a thought.


    • I’m not a big believer of “everything happens for a reason,” although I think it’s smart to learn from your mistakes. I also think things happen because of planning, bad choices, unintened consequences and greed. Maybe those are all reasons.

  4. “Life’s not fair, but YOU can be.” Yes, one person at a time, we can make our immediate worlds more fair. Maybe it might spread, Hmm?

  5. When my kids were small and one was complaining, my husband tried out the statement, “life isn’t fair.” I spoke up and said, “It should be,” and I took steps to make the situation more fair.

    I made it clear, to the relief of the kids, that in our family and as much as we could with others, we believed in fairness and would do what we could to extend fairness.

    My husband realizes he was just repeating one of those parenting things he heard many times while growing up. He is a fair person.

    I so agree with your statement, “I can be fair even if life isn’t. I can make my space, my house, my car fair. Even if the rest of the world isn’t.”

    Thanks for posting this.

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