Friday, 7 December 2012

Well, little Jimmy, LIFE isn't fair

Me, 1992: "But, mummy, why don't we just get all the money in the world, and take it down to the South Pole, and count how many people there are in the world and how much money there is in the world and divide it equally between them? Wouldn't that be fair?"

This kid is my imaginary spiritual mentor. "Yeah but WHY?"
 To give my wonderful mother the credit she deserves, in response to this question from her six year old daughter - probably while she was trying to mark some homework, or mow the lawn, or get back to sleep after I'd woken her up at two in the morning - she not only debated the merits of my argument, gave me a brief precis of socialism and communism, and told me stories about getting interrogated at the Czechoslovakian border in the 1970s, but she did not once fall back on that old parental staple: "Well, darling, life isn't fair."

Calling something "childish" is the ultimate conversation-stopper: if your line of argument is deemed childish, it's game over, and you've lost. But, actually, a whole lot of this social justice thing is based on that much-derided, undeniably childish complaint: "It's not fair".

Because it's not fair that women earn less than men across the board, for example. It's also not fair that only the uterus-enabled can make babies, but there's not much we can do about that - but the pay gap? Is eminently fixable.

It's not fair that some people are discriminated against and derided and raped and murdered because they're trans. We can't go back in time and magic them into a body which fits their gender identity, but we can stop fucking them over now.

It's not fair that some people are born with a rare genetic disease and some aren't, but fixing that isn't within our purview: making sure that our buildings and toilets are accessible to them is, because holding our meetings up "just one step" isn't fucking fair.

I could go on, but you get the point, right? No, little Jimmy, life isn't fair, but there's a difference between Unfair Stuff we can't change, and Unfair Stuff we can. Saying "well, suck it up: LIFE isn't fair" is a cop-out. It isn't fair. But we can make it fairer.


  1. Yes! There's a quote- from Temple Grandin I think- "The world is cruel, but we don't have to be". I think it's our responsibility to step up and make up for as much unfairness as we can.

    1. Hooray, you came back! The quote's awesome.