Monday, May 7, 2012

Life Isn't Fair

     I had the pleasure of going to breakfast with a longtime friend this morning. Fortunately the circumstances that brought us together at this point aren't as dire as they would seem on the surface of things. My friend is out of work due to a health crisis that is rather severe but should be resolvable. I am on a "furlough" from my job as my employer can not bare to say the word "unemployed." Truth is truth no matter how you try to disguise it with words. The business is not doing well right now and there is a lack of work. Fine, call it under-employed for the moment, as it is not supposed to be permanent.
     It is always a great experience to be able to get together with someone that you can have an in depth  conversation with them because they know your past and what your present holds. They knew you when you were starting on your life's journey, so you don't have to spend too much time on the back story to explain this current conclusion that you have found yourself engaged in, this all consuming here and now.
     Naturally, the state of the state, the economy, politics, and all the sundry, sordid details we used to hash about when we worked together were out on display for discussion.
     The discussion eventually came around to issues of social justice and building community, health, and the political landscape; topics my friend and I could talk about endlessly. Hopefully our talking about them also motivates us and aids in empowering us to act by our beliefs as well.
     The discussion lead me to express one of my foundational beliefs to my friend. If a person believes that they should lead a life based on certain sets of doctrine, then they need to be prepared to explore that entire body of work, not just the words that support their own personal agenda, but also the words that may call them to do hard work or see the world in a way that might not fit with what they want.
     One of the phrases that has always distressed me has been the phrase, "well, life isn't fair," or "the sooner you can teach a kid that life isn't fair, the better."
     I just don't think this is a healthy or legitimate credo to be instilling on the young or upon others that we meet along our life journeys. It is a hard reality to face, but I do believe that there are some strong spiritual and scriptural references that people can turn to that would teach very differently about this way of thinking or reacting to life. I don't have all the answers, I am not a theologian, and I am not a social scientist.
     I do have some strong feelings about the communities which we all are a part of and how we should engage in and with each other. I also do refer to the Old Testament for some of the foundation of my personal beliefs about how we should interact with each other. This one verse has meant so much to me over the years, "Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy." Psalm 82:3
     To me, this simple verse appears to say that we are called to try to make life fair. We are to defend others, to lift them up so they are able to participate equally in the community with us. It does not matter what their affliction is-whether they are homeless, poor, undereducated, addicted, old, lonely; we are called to help them. We are called to serve others as ourselves. anyone that has one less material thing than me, one less bit of health than me, one less successful relationship than me; they have less than me and I am called to help them in anyway I can as an active member of our community. Others that have more than me, in whatever form, they are called to help me, guide me, and mentor me.
     No, life isn't fair, but I am called to try to make it so.