Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"It's Not Fair!"

Remember when you were a kid and your sister got the bigger cupcake? Or your brother got to take karate but you didn't? Or that kid on the playground cut in the tether ball line?

Auto-response: "It's not fair!"

I don't know what it is, but every kid seems to have this built-in Fairness Meter. They seem to see everything and everyone as needing to be treated equally. Well, when they're the ones getting the short end of the stick at least. The kids with the bigger piece of cake never seem to bring that up...

But anyway, the adult's usual response is the ever-annoying-because-it's-true: "Well, life's not fair."

At which point the kid grumbles something along the lines of "It should be." And the path to disillusionment begins.

But I'm starting to wonder if we ever truly grow out of that impulse to cry "It's not fair!" I know I'm supposed to be an adult and everything. I certainly know that life is nowhere close to fair. I know what it's like to be on the losing team when the winners cheated. I know how it is to get left out for no other reason than "you're different." I know what it's like to work too hard for too long and not get the reward.

At times like these the child in my head still yells "It's not fair!" Then the adult in my head chides me with "Well, life's not fair." And it still doesn't make be feel any better. I still mentally ball my fists, standing there defiantly, thinking, "It should be fair."

And maybe that's part of the reason humans write stories (well, at least this human). In stories, things mostly turn out how they're supposed to. Good guys beat bad guys. People get what they deserve (eventually). Sacrifice and suffering are rewarded with happily ever afters. Love lasts, or at least gets found. Life is...fair.

Okay, so not all stories do that, but the ones I love do. And I think that's why I love them so much. They call to my inner child, the one who just wants the world to be fair for once.


  1. I totally feel you here. It seems as we become adults we lose the license to pout. Just because we're older or something we have to act mature no matter what life doles out to us. That's why I prefer reading and writing YA. Because in YA, generally, everything works out for the best, eventually.

  2. Absolutely.

    Though for some reason I keep writing stories where the happy, perfect ending is impossible. No wonder my characters hate me. Huh. :)

  3. Yes, that's why when a book or movie or anime ends tragically, I whine about it :P I like my happy endings. I think that's why I like giving my characters them too, although sometimes they have to journey through hell (twice) to get there.

  4. I prefer to live in a fairy tale where everything is perfect. Granted my disillusionment cannot last long.... but it makes for a nice break.

    Oh to be a child again

  5. I'm with Amanda on this one... sometimes the happy, perfect ending is just no good. Life's not fair, but you can control how you play the cards you're dealt. You get that bigger cupcake!

  6. Ohhh, you just took me way back.

    Now excuse me while I break up a fight ensuing between my children in the living room...I may just take away their coveted toy and use the line "Life's not fair" simply because I'm inspired.

    Ah, the joy of being on the other (and much more mature) end. *snarks

  7. I know life's not fair, but I believe (and I've raised my son to believe) that we never give up the fight to make things fair.

    I guess there's a tv show called "What Would You Do?". (I haven't see the show, only heard about it.)

    It has unfair situations played out by real people in front of real people. They then make note of how often and under what circumstances spectators step in. I hope I will always be one to step in.

    Why yes, I am an INFP, why do you ask? :)

  8. Ah, but see, in stories -- good ones, like the ones you love and write -- there a whole heck of a lot of It's Not Fair! before we get to the Happily Ever After. That's what makes the HEA so rewarding. And while I don't think life is always fair, I do believe in karma, and I believe that good things come to good people, all in due time.

    (But of course, that doesn't stop me from pouting and stomping and DESPERATELY WISHING the Fair would come sooner!)

  9. I'll scream it with you today. "LIFE'S NOT FAIR!!!!!" Hmm....I still don't feel better. Let's eat brownies instead. Then at least we can be in a sugar coma.

  10. I agree, that things make more sense in stories than real life. Things aren't so messy. That's why they are such good escapes.

  11. I'm realizing how awesome it is to have a scoop that makes perfectly equal cupcakes!

    My hubby says, "The fair only comes once a year." It's not exactly comforting, but true.

  12. Kristan, I think that's true, of course. A book would be boring if it was all being fair and no conflict.

    I guess what I was trying to say it that fiction gives me hope that it CAN happen. That things can work out. It might be a false hope, but it's nice anyway.

    I don't need a book that reminds me how much life isn't fair—I already know that!

  13. Kids learn fairness from us. First they're selfish and want what everyone else has. So to avoid fights, we teach them to share, and to share fairly. Then they begin to insist on fairness in everything and wonder why it doesn't always work.

    And since I'm an adult and STILL don't know why it doesn't work, we're confused our whole lives.

  14. One of my favorite quotes: "Life's not fair. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something." (Princess Bride) Mostly I just like it because I thought Wesly was so hot!

    I wish I was closer so we could go get some yummy sushi together. Hang in there.

  15. "I guess what I was trying to say it that fiction gives me hope that it CAN happen. That things can work out. It might be a false hope, but it's nice anyway. "

    Oh good, that's what I was driving at too, minus the false par!

    You'll get your happy "ending" (in quotes b/c it will really only be a beginning). :)