Every year I get older the faster the years go by and the harder it is to remember it all. I remember back when my allowance was kept in drawer I couldn’t reach and adults sounded like the Peanuts. How back then, “one minute” was about a year, and a year was basically forever.
Looking back you can’t have regrets. The best case is you failed a lot and learned more.
Several years ago sitting on my porch in the bitter cold the day before my birthday I tried without relief to remember how I spent the prior year. I couldn’t. I don’t know that it ever came to me. That said, I started then and continue today to write at least one journal entry a year on my birthday to take a blurry, blown-out Polaroid of what happened the last 365 days.
And I’m glad every year I started that tradition when I sit begrudgingly to write the current year’s and have the opportunity to reflect on the past. What I wish—what I’ve learned this year and hope to continue moving forward is to reflect and record my lessons. I look at the year I lived in my car; or the year I doubled the revenue of my business; or the year that I had my first crush; and wish I could remember more from my point of view then. Looking back now I have a high level plot—like that movie you saw years ago—but no dialogue. And worse—I see those memories and stories now through my point of view today—and not back then.
Which brings me to the beginning of things. Looking back at 2013—it was truly a tumultuous year. Personally, politically, economically and sociologically. Things weren’t easy for me—for a lot of people. Externalities are affecting more people, the rich have a larger gap than ever before over the poor, and smaller, third-world economies continue their forced and voluntary exploitation as the gap between them and the first world countries continues to grow. None of it is fair.
For me, 2013 was about fairness. This year I found fairness.
Which speaks volumes to my intelligence—because it was right there in the dictionary all along.
Fairness: achieving the right balance of interest without regard to our feelings, beliefs or interests, and without showing favor to any one side in a conflict.
Duh right… did you catch the part about how fairness is that which is, “without regard to our feelings, beliefs or interests?”
Or the part where it says that which is, “without favor to any one side of conflict?”
So really, when someone asks you what is fair—they don’t want your opinion. And for you to think you know what is fair—you’re implying that you’ve come to that conclusion without any bias, opinion, worldview or cultural impact? Thought so.
I realize I’m among the degenerates out there and a lot of people already know all this. But hear me out. I applied this new knowledge of “fairness” to that big world out there.
I found a family that adopted a girl when she was a baby and raised her as their own among their own children. That girl grew into a woman who dedicated her life to nursing and helping others through regular volunteer work. And her father—who loved her very much—came to befriend the man who raped and murdered his daughter.
I read a woman’s account of her ongoing appreciation of her middle school teacher that sexually assaulted her at 14.
I guarantee you saw a movie this year where the protagonist acted fairly in response to oppression or desperate times. What if the movie would have been through the eyes of another character… still fair?
I read, saw, heard and lived to see people with mental disorders convicted of actions they had no control over; of politicians limiting the liberties of people they don’t know; and corporations making one-sided decisions over externalities. And none of these decisions were unfair in the eyes of the decision maker. But those who were victims? Well their opinion was unfair too.
Maybe in 2013 you couldn’t return something to a retailer; or you were charged a fee by your bank; or you weren’t invited to an event; or won’t be given that holiday bonus. And to you, that’s not fair. And to the other people involved, it’s completely fair. And in reality?
None of it is fair—yet when you hear the story from every point of view—you won’t say it wasn’t fair. It was unfair, but it wasn’t. We quickly realize that fairness is a figment of our worldview. We call things fair or unfair without being there. Without living it. Without hearing the other side.
If I learned something in 2013 it’s that I don’t know what’s fair. Instead, I learned that if there’s another side to the issue that I’m not seeing, then I’m obviously not looking hard enough. I learned that when asked what’s fair—I can only attempt at contributing to the conversation if my moral scale* is truly balanced with each side of the issue.
* Gravity required