Home » Society » Unfair or Unfortunate? Emotional vs. Principled Thinking

Unfair or Unfortunate? Emotional vs. Principled Thinking

unfairIt is a piteous thing to look upon the suffering of others no matter what the cause of that suffering.

A child born with disabilities whose own struggle to survive drains every last bit of nerve and resource that his or her loving family possesses.

An undereducated, unskilled lost soul who just can’t seem to make it in the world, trying to live on the wages of a part-time or even full-time job at McDonalds or Walmart. (The whipping boys of present.)

The angry, abused abuser hoodlum who can’t keep himself or herself on the right side of the law, wandering about in an aimless, but destructive, path trying to keep alive in an equally brutal community.

The destitute hordes living in slums the world over. I have seen them in person. Even the poorest Americans can hardly imagine the squalor.

Starving and begging children. Africans without good drinking water. South Americans without good medical care. Middle Easterners trapped in the clutches of violent regimes. Jungle tribes bound to incomprehensible and often violent superstitions.

Desert dwellers without any of the natural resources necessary for something beyond barest subsistence.

Honestly, if it doesn’t break your heart your inhuman. If something inside of you doesn’t yearn to help you’ve probably crossed the line into debilitating self-absorption.

That said, the question that I want to answer is whether these circumstances are UNFAIR, or merely UNFORTUNATE.

To speak of something being “unfair” is tricky… it assumes that people are owed something that they have been cheated out of. Unfair suggests biased processes in which those who have a right to something are denied that something.

How else should one define FAIR?

My father’s favorite statement was, “Life’s not fair,” and it certainly isn’t. One man is born intelligent, another mentally disabled. One is born with a natural inclination to strength and another is born physically handicapped. One can see another is blind. One is born to rich parents in a technologically developed country and another to peasant farmers in the Congo. One is born into a nation preserving natural rights and another is born into slavery…. to abusive parents, to mentally ill parents, to deaf parents. I could go on forever. Tall, short, handsome, homely, creative, dull, able to sing, croaking like a frog.

So, yes, Dad, you are quite correct; life is NOT fair.

So at what point have we decided that the only morality of the modern age should be a struggle to counterbalance the unfairness of life by crafting ever changing legal systems, ever increasing government power & ever declining protection of natural rights in order to force a uniformity of effect in spite of a radical lack of uniformity of cause?

What should the legal obligation of one citizen of the globe be to some other citizen of the globe whose “accident of birth” renders their starting point less prosperous, less pleasant, less healthy, less hopeful than his or her own?

Do we imagine that one’s starting point is the only point that matters?

To speak of some “accidents of birth” as unfortunate is a matter of pity and empathy. That’s fine.

To make a call for charity and willing self-sacrifice is fine too. Better than fine… truly noble.

To speak of these accidents of birth as unfair, however, is to suggest that someone is owed something that they didn’t get, that some legal obligation remains which some government force needs to rectify… usually at any cost to the whole… usually to the detriment of the whole. It is impossible to rectify the inequities of nature… and even more impossible (if there be such a thing) to rectify the imbalances created by human choice and inclination. It is deepest folly and reckless hubris to imagine that one can.

Indeed, the greatest benefit to humanity is found in systems of freedom in which the natural rights of each individual is protected from violation, whether from the citizenry, the government, or some foreign power… but not from the providence of God or the random dolling out of nature itself.

We have recently received news that our newest family member, a little boy born to us some months ago, has a fatal and extremely rare disease. This is a sorrow, a piteous experience, a mother’s greatest horror… a true misfortune as humans count misfortune. It is not, however, UNFAIR. Fair and unfair have nothing to do with it.

Every person enters this world in the place apportioned to them, whether by God (my conviction) or by some random act of nature. We each confront what challenges and opportunities are laid before us. God owes us nothing. Life owes us nothing. The only thing we are owed in this world is for our natural rights to life, liberty and property to be unfettered by anything save our own obligation to leave the natural rights of another unviolated.

When one cries, “UNFAIR” about accidents of nature, he or she calls for a legal intervention whose first task must be to strip away these natural rights in order to rectify the inequities of nature, choice, and inclination.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

%d bloggers like this: