Life’s unfair

Whenever I complained about anything being unfair, my parents’ actions or anything else, my father had a stock answer.  

“President Kennedy said ‘life’s unfair’,” my father would say.

I have no doubt that John Kennedy said that, just as I have no doubt he was shot in the head one morning in Dallas, proving his point.   

Life is unfair, it is also immensely complicated.   Sometimes it’s hard to navigate.   I react badly, unfairly, and I hurt you.  You react with hurt.  I think you are reacting with way too much hurt.  Fuck, I didn’t hurt you that badly!  Now who’s the victim of unfairness?

“Wait, you just admitted you hurt me.  Isn’t it unfair to tell me exactly how much I’m entitled to be hurt?   Do you know what I’m going through at this moment, what makes me more vulnerable than usual to suffering from unfair treatment by someone I trust?  Did I ever treat you that way?”

Now the back goes up, which happens automatically as the body is poised for fight or flight.

“You want fair, asshole?”  and the game is on.

If you are philosophical it may seem possible to arrive at a reasonable  understanding of virtually anything.  Once you have some data and a framework to understand something you have the way to make otherwise incomprehensible things comprehensible to yourself.   Of course, life being unfair, having a coherent framework to talk about something does not always lead to a mutually helpful conversation.

I can try to look at the conflict through the lens of your pain, understanding, for example, why it is so hard for you to compromise or make amends, but that view may cut a little too close to your nerve endings for your comfort.  You’ll feel judged, moreso if the view comes close to a painful truth.  Much easier to continue fighting over who has the right to feel more hurt by the other.  On a bad day you will hear things like “you have to understand that I’m too upset by what you did to listen to why you’re upset.”

Life’s unfair, and part of its unfairness is rooted in its often incoherent nature.  In spite of all the theories, and of science, and the role of the marvelous human mind in fathoming things that are difficult, a good part of life simply defies sense, logic, discussion.  Unfair, if you ask me.

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