Picture it… a six-year-old little Marcus, throwing a public temper tantrum that would rival one of the demonic possession scenes from, “The Exorcist.” And what horrible injustice could bring on such a display? Well, a trip to Target where my sister got some new underwear, but I was told I couldn’t have a battery powered Star Wars Light Saber. My wails of “No fair!” could probably be heard three states away.
“No fair!” was a childhood saying that sprang from my mouth whenever things didn’t suit me; something that happened about, oh, every 30 seconds. My mom wouldn’t let me have a bowl of Frosted Flakes ten minutes before dinner, my dad wouldn’t let me drive the riding lawn mower, or maybe I was told that I couldn’t have a pony – whatever the denied request was, my answer was always the same: “No fair!”
When I’d air that oh-so-eloquent grievance, the response was usually the same, “Life isn’t fair, kiddo.” That always felt like my complaints were being completely disregarded. Yet, now that I’m an adult (sort of), I’ve discovered it’s true; life isn’t fair.
Have you ever uttered my favorite childhood phrase? Once we become adults, it usually takes some sort of horrible tragedy before we declare life unfair. If you think back over the last few years, there are a few instances where there just seems no balance to the tragic fates some have suffered: the World Trade Center, the schoolhouse massacre in Russia and, most recently, the string of bombings in the London subways system. After each of these horrible events, the families of the victims had to be feeling that life had dealt their loved ones an undeserved hand.
Life is simply not fair. Wallowing in self-pity or frustration over something beyond our control changes nothing. The sooner we accept this fact, the more quickly we can continue to live life to the fullest.
If you’ve ever done charity work, you’ve probably seen the depressing side of humanity. After all, that’s what mission work is: assistance to the less fortunate. Yet, it doesn’t have to be depressing – and often times, the people being assisted prove that their lives aren’t as horrible as we believe.
Two summers ago, one of my buds went on a mission trip to the poorest of the poor areas of Appalachia. His descriptions of a family’s living conditions were nothing short of wretched. They barely had enough to feed themselves, much less extras for all the amenities we take for granted: electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, clean clothing.
Yet, according to my friend, these folks were happy. Happy? Really? Is that even possible? Of course it is! They were determined not to look at their financial status (or more specifically, lack thereof), but rather to focus on the ever-present love of family. Life is not fair for these people, at least that’s what my friend thought when his group first pulled up to their tiny shack. Chances are, that’s also what the majority of us in the non-Appalachian world would think. Good thing that family doesn’t believe it.
The key to moving past the injustices of the world is to realize and accept that things do not always happen the way we want. Acceptance of the hard truth is the first step. Second, well, you decide what comes next. Do you dwell on the unfairness of life? Or do you strive to do the best you can with the hand you’ve been dealt? In essence, do you act like an ungrateful child who thinks life is “No fair!” because he can’t have a toy? Or do you act like the Appalachian family and count yourself lucky for the things you have? The choice is yours!
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