A life lesson that I have learned later in my years has also been the hardest and yet most freeing of all. It’s simply this;
Life is not fair and we should not be expect it to be just.
For me this has been by far the most difficult fact to accept because growing up we were always told that by being …’good that good things will be returned.’ Our society, and our religious upbringings, reinforce these messages so we can find ourselves completely devastated when something awful and tragic happens when we have spent our lives trying to be good.
The problem as I see it is that we fail to see that life as we know it is simply that from the time we are born we enter a realm where factors like chaos, randomness, behaviours, science, nature and social norms are in constant battle with each other, and all these influences permeate all that we are doing and all that we try to do. When such strong forces are thrown together there can be no real basis for fairness and justice which is contingent on our individual behavior or character. In fact to think that our behavior and nature has some greater power to administer justice in this world can be seen as extremely narcissistic.
We don’t rule this world or the course of events simply by being good people, or as close to that term as we think we can get. We simply don’t have that power over the world or the universe. Thus tragic things happen to anyone. Bad things happen to good people all the time and that is just the way of this thing called life.
It is generally our need to blame something or someone for life events which is why we have developed these concepts of justice, but they can only serve us in very specific circumstances;
For example…Johnny dropped his mother’s vase and broke it. It’s his fault that the vase broke on this occasion and he can clearly be seen as the catalyst for the vase breaking. Johnny is punished for his behavior by being grounded for a month. This is fair. Johnny is punished for something he has done and justice is served.
But outside these isolated examples we find that this formula doesn’t work in larger realms of life. Outside these specific incidences we see people dying of illnesses they don’t deserve (when we evaluate their pain simply based on whether or not their actions have warranted the suffering).
We constantly see people suffering for actions that people don’t do or merit. We witness people being hurting from forces outside their internal controls.
Is this fair?
The simple answer is clearly no. No matter how much we humans like to compartmentalize and formulate life events it simply just does not work that way.
Nietzsche and many philosophers the world over have explored the concept of morality and behaviors far deeper than I ever have and have given much thought to the idea of good and bad behaviors and their resulting consequences. I have enjoyed reading their ideas and sifting through their treatise on the many topics affecting the human condition. However my experiences have led me to the simple assumption that life isn’t fair and it isn’t designed to be.
Our social, religious and political backgrounds have shaped us and influenced us into believing that if I am a good person then good things will happen for me. Sadly this isn’t a true statement of fact and more like akin to hopeful thinking.
Accepting this different reality has been a difficult task for me but it is also freeing in many so ways. For instance, in understanding that the true nature of life and living is random, unpredictable and unknown can also open up possibilities that we can’t anticipate and give us hope when we need it most. It certainly has been the case for me.
I find it easier to accept life on different terms and I am free from the belief of hating myself or blaming myself for every little thing that doesn’t go well or goes tragically wrong. I used to constantly beat myself up for anything and everything. I felt responsible for every persons life and the events that occurred in it. It was more pressure and burden than anyone should have to endure.
Today I have found some alternative comfort in knowing that trying to be a stable, respectful and peaceful person affords me comfort that exists outside the daily events or occurrences that take place in this world. It allows me to see that although there are many painful and hurtful things that take place in this world, and this life, it is still possible to distill happiness and love from the darkest of forces and the harshest of realities.