“The World Isn’t Fair”
I see it all the time: Someone asks for a little peace, or empathy, or respect and is told that they’re asking too much. I’ve read over and over some variation of “grow up”. It gets tiresome reading it: “The world isn’t fair.”
No. The world isn’t fair; not on a scale that humans can understand. Children who have yet to speak a word can be terminally ill. Neighborhoods can be destroyed by wind or flood while inhabitants are sleeping. The pandemic proved that the natural world does not care about our ideas of equity. None of those things seem fair from our perspective. Fairness does not seem to be naturally occurring.
But, we created treatments and vaccines. We’ve developed technology to warn people of impending natural disaster. We do all we can to give those born with illness and disability a life of dignity and worth, even if it is still shorter than the average. Justice may not be natural, but neither are glass, steel, or concrete. The scope of human history is constant attempts to outsmart the natural order.
Humans have crafted medicine, shelters, and prosthetics. We have also crafted laws and policies that protect those who need it. We have made the world safer as well as more just; not perfectly or without bias, but we’ve reduces those, too, over time. Those things are fragile, though; they require maintenance.
We haven’t gotten it just right, but we have made progress.
We’ve put “content warnings” on movies for decades now, warning us about nudity or language or violence. I hear people mocking “Safe Spaces” as though there is something wrong with having a space for your team; “Safe spaces” have existed in the form of fraternities, gated communities, man caves and she sheds. I see people mocked for changing their name; people named Margaret can choose to be called Peggy and people named Eduaro to be called Ted. Everything derided as “liberal” or “fragile” already exists in other forms. Why are we still mocking people for trying to be happy–trying to feel safe, in a world that isn’t fair?
We can make the world more fair; help people be happier. We can show them the respect and dignity that they deserve.
A great philosopher once wrote that the Universe does not contain one atom of justice. The truth is that we have to believe in justice to make it real; we have to invest in it to manifest it. We can make the world better than its natural state. We can build the Beloved Community. It requires working together. We have to create institutions that pool our resources and put them to work. Those institutions have to be empowered to enact justice.
Trust me, some people aren’t going to be happy when this change happens. Some people benefit from the injustice–that’s why it still exists. We have to do away with it anyway.
Things will never be “perfect”, at least not for very long. The work will never be truly done, but we can make things better. I am tired of seeing people mocked for seeking justice and equity. The whole reason for human society is to struggle against the injustice and unpredictability of nature. From harnessing fire and agriculture to forging representative governments to defend human rights: We’ve always been better because we struggled, together, to be better.
Justice may not have a naturally occurring form, but we can build it.