Monday, September 6, 2010

That's Not Fair!

From early in our childhood we seem to be innately incensed when our ideas of what is fair are violated. "He got four cookies and I only got one. That's not fair"! "Hey! He broke in line. That's not fair"! Interestingly, as I have aged I have become aware that the child that was me who yelled those very sorts of protests hasn't really changed that much; only his perspective.

The changed perspective grew out of the grappling with the root of the protest and its implications. Such a root necessarily involves a reference point and an ought. The reference point is normally always self while the ought is an appeal to objective truth in the pursuit of justice. The perceived unfairness of someone else getting more cookies is not what is being challenged. It is the unfairness of someone getting four cookies in reference to the fact that I only got one. Such an injustice ought not be. While, generally speaking, accrued years does not remedy this problem for us, especially as it pertains to our base emotions, they should at least cause us to gain a little perspective. The extent to which this happens would seem to depend on one's worldview. This truth can be demonstrated by the basis upon which one attempts to answer questions like these:

  • Can a person at once proclaim that there is no objective truth and a thing isn't fair?
  • What is the base [nominal?] amount of cookies a child receives that qualifies as universally "fair"? Should they both get four cookies? or one? Perhaps, after justly dividing their cookies evenly, they proceed to enjoy them while blissfully ignorant of the great injustice they are incurring because someone somewhere is eating a whole bag.
  • What about the child to whom a bowl of flour and oil would bring tears of joy. Should he instead feel cheated?
  • Ought not it also be an ought, in light of an appeal to objective truth in the name of fairness, that the child suffering the social injustice take his appeals for justice to the next level and refuse to enjoy his cookies until everyone has partaken in the just amount of cookies?
  • What will any of it matter five generations hence or when the sun burns out?

The secular humanist worldview, which is the predominate Western worldview of Christian and non Christian alike, when it makes appeals for justice--and it most definitely does--necessarily must root itself in cognitive dissonance to address these questions. He must, on the one hand, claim that there is no such thing as objective truth; that right and wrong are mere social constructs; that the concept of sin is an artifact of the past; that our very existence is the result of spontaneous and random events, while on the other hand assert that we ought to help the poor; that stealing is not always right; that killing is never right (if the person is born); that we oughtn't lie; that we oughtn't pollute the planet; that we oughtn't torture animals; and so on.

The Christian worldview, on the other hand, can answer these questions without contradictions. It proclaims that, not only is the world not fair, but that there is nothing that man can ever do to change that fact due to his condition brought about by an innate denial of a universal reference point. It also proclaims that, not only is there a source of objective truth that sovereignly decrees and judges what is fair and what is not, the greatest injustice happened when man was redeemed from his injustices. This truth thereby precludes man from making the charge of unfairness based on man's point of reference. It is not obvious in this current age, but there was a time in Western culture that these truths were somewhat universally understood and accepted. They were articulated with words like providence, lot, contentment, and His will; and in a negative sense, covetousness.

It is not my intended point here that the necessity for a logical and consistent worldview proves the existence of God, but rather that the claims for the nonexistence of God renders any cries for fairness and justice as ex nihilo and absurd. It IS my point however that the answer to protests of unfairness, such as those lodged by the current "social justice" horde, is the same as the one I give my seven year old. "You're right... It isn't.... be glad."


Susan said...

M. Scott Peck in his book "The Road Less Traveled" begins the book with the sentence "Life is difficult." We can aptly also say, "Life is not fair." And once we accept that life is difficult and life is not fair, then it becomes less difficult and less unfair.

As Christians, we who have been given it ALL - Eternal Life - through no effort of our own must learn as Paul did to be content in WHATEVER state the Lord chooses to place us in. It is a life long process of learning that but true contentment comes when we gain some knowledge and insight into that reality.

Stan said...

My mom never let me forget this. To me outraged cry, "That's not fair!" she would reply, "Who ever told you life was fair?" An important lesson.

Fredd said...

'If life were fair:'

1. Old, fat bald ugly guys would anchor all the news desks, and host all the game shows.

2. Homely, fat dumpy gals would win all the beauty pageants.

3. Old, fat, short bald guys would start at center for the New York Knicks.

Yeah, if only life were fair. Obviously, it ain't.

Kathy said...

I was gonna post on this SAME topic, and you beat me to it! That's not fair!

Craig and Heather said...

"Your right... It isn't.... be glad."


I think you're right in that the secular humanistic mindset has infected the church. Even as an adult, I find it hard to remember that life isn't fair--and that it's not an entirely bad thing.

It's easy to get caught up in counting, squabbling over and redistributing cookies while ignoring the fact that, from God's perspective, none of us deserves any.