The phrase "life is not fair" is a little overused and has become one of those many everyday sayings that people use but do not think about. This is a real shame, it is a statement that is both true and through the acceptance of it's premise can make you a great deal more relaxed as you face the daily trials and tribulations of daily life
In this modern age of the individual, where we are told continuously through advertising, social media, the newspapers and TV that we are all "amazing" and "special", the importance of the phrase"life is not fair" has never been more important.
When it comes to the values within society, I am a staunch believer in the individual over the collective. The type of individuality best demonstrated by the Protestant teachings of the first settlers into what we now know as America rather than the self reverential individualism we now see in modern America. The former group believed that the route to happiness was achieved through individual responsibility which led to a more productive and peaceful collective society, whereas the latter group appear to believe that the primary goal of life is individual satisfaction with no secondary thought for family or on society as a whole.
This myopic view of the world, coupled with the impressive improvements in safety and standard of living (created by the hard graft of previous generations) is best personified by the term "Millennial". An over used term that is supposed to describe a collective generation of those born in 1982 to 2000, but instead is used to describe an attitude. An attitude that is perceived to be: entitled, spoilt, selfish, self obsessed and narcissistic. This attitude is one demonstrated by individuals from all generations and not just Millennials. Rather than being a generational trait, it is instead a trait of modern life.
The dangers that have afflicted generations past have now been either removed or reduced to such an extent that public discourse is currently pre-occupied with hurtful words or gender neutral toilets. In this environment it seems people find it harder and harder to accept when even the smallest things go wrong or when a perceived wrong has happened to them- If a taxi is late, if a waiter gets an order wrong, if someone uses the wrong gender pronoun; people erupt into the type of anger that would usually have been reserved for true personal injustice. Centuries ago the masses were campaigning for their basic human rights; in the modern world people get outraged by being served a latte when they in fact ordered a soy latte.
Context is everything and I believe that this complete lack of understanding of what benefits we enjoy today in the context of the journey that has been undertaken to win them is frankly depressing. This is best shown in how baffled, upset and angry people get when they are faced with an outcome that is not viewed as "fair". As highlighted at the start of this article, life is not fair; to be surprised of this fact is the height of naivety and is an indulgence that we should ridicule rather than accommodate. One of the worst character traits I can think of is entitlement and there is a current sense of assumed entitlement that appears to be growing amongst individuals that can only be bad for society as a whole.
Thinking we can make the world or individual outcomes fair is a hubris that verges on the delusional. It is this arrogance that has led to the sensible and highly laudable aim of creating equal opportunities for all people to be replaced with an obsession with an equality of outcome. The search for Utopia is a road to ruin as it is the randomness (both cruel and kind) of life that creates and has created the best music, art and most interesting people in the world. To pretend this is not the case is to stifle the drive and ambition that has characterised so much of the benefits we now enjoy.
The catalyst for this article was the behaviour of a lady on a flight I took with my family yesterday. She had booked the exit row seats and refused to let anybody sit in the seats after take-off because she had paid extra for them and she thought it would be unfair to let others enjoy the seats if they had not paid extra. The flight was 14 hours and she refused to let ill passengers, old passengers and young passengers sit in the exit row seats next to her. Obviously the cabin began to turn against this women, however throughout the whole journey she remained utterly shocked that anybody would allow this injustice to happen. She had paid for her seats and it would be unfair to let others sit there. I wanted to scream at her that life is not fair and that nobody owes her any courtesy if she is unwilling to show courtesy to others. This would have been met with applause from the cabin but likely have gone online, become viral, and seen me fired for being a loud angry man shouting at a woman. Thankfully I did not and have instead written this article to express my revulsion at the lady and her attitude; but if that chain of events would have happened I would have been upset but not surprised because life is not fair.