Webster's II Dictionary defines the following:
Fair: impartial, just, in accordance with rules and standards, free from self-interest. Fair tactics, in a proper or legal way (played fair).
Justice: the principal of ideal or moral rightness, the upholding of what is right, fairness, integrity in the dealings of men with each other.
Peace: the absence of hostilities, a state of harmony as between persons, freedom from disquieting feelings, serenity.
I've always had a strong sense of fairness and justice. Birth order will do that to a girl. As the youngest of three, I always had to sit in the middle of the backseat, I had to go to bed first, I had to sit silently on Sundays while my brother and parents enjoyed football, I had to stay home when my siblings went to camp, I had a daytime luncheon at home while my sister had an evening party in the city, I was the last one to do everything and by the time it was my turn the rules had changed. As you can see my young life was full of serious injustice.
Like most new parents, I set out to instill morals in my young spawn. Once my babies were old enough to play with their peers I asked them to share and be fair. I asked this weekly, daily, hourly. My babies grew into children and I continued to ask them to be just, just as they learned that I fooled them. Their little selves pieced it together, life isn't fair! Not only isn't it fair, once the cat is out of the bag, their mom will forever tell them to be fair while reminding them life isn't fair.
Equity is not guaranteed in politics, money, education, reproduction, geography, income, gender, laws, genetics, race, health, hair, intelligence, love, war, boobs, butts, opportunity, sports and not even in our justice system.
Recently I found myself in a very unfair situation. I was dealing with someone who displayed a lack of integrity in our dealings, did not play by rules that were set between the two of us and acted with self-interest. Fighting the good fight left me tired and defeated so I sought advice from a superior negotiator, man of principal and principal intimidator. My dad. I expected some ire, to be propped up and sent back into battle. My father offered immediate and unexpected calm while reminding me with his wise words that parents never stop parenting and they continue to surprise. "You can't make anyone do what they should. But we can solve and move past this. It's not right and it's not fair but it's what we'll do." He swiftly sized up my situation and suggested a path to peace not war. The path would be littered with injustice and inequality. I would not get what is owed, my foe would benefit and there would not be any recourse. But, I would get peace, rather a piece of peace.
Swallowing a bitter pill I offered up a treaty that was unevenly weighted. Anger is still quick to surface when I think about the final arrangement, but in the quiet that has followed I feel better. I don't have total freedom from disquieting feelings but I am calm and resolute to continue on the peace train.
So what about my two maturing children?
I want them to be fair, have integrity when dealing with others and when possible eliminate their own self-interest, even in complicated situations. I want them to accept that nothing is guaranteed to be fair. I will teach my kids that when faced with injustice they should fight the good fight, but that you cannot change anyone but yourself. When fighting starts to compromise your own well being, find a path to peace and create a space absent of hostility. I will often remind my kids, and myself, that things usually balance out.
I undoubtedly have more than I deserve on many days. The ways in which I have been abundantly blessed are the things I bring to mind when I acquiesce and give into that which is disproportionate and partial.
The only thing fair about life is that it's unfair for all. That's justice worth remembering.