Life Is Not Always Fair

As the last little bit of summer is upon us, I have developed a cold.

Sigh.  A summer cold.

Colds are meant for the winter time!  On a beautiful sunny day like today, I feel like curling up in a ball under a blanket.  It just doesn’t seem fair!

But seriously, a cold any time of year is really small potatoes when I think about the more weighty matters that are genuinely unfair in life:

– Serious, life threatening illnesses and accidents

– Death of a loved one

– Natural Disasters that devastate a mass number of lives, like the tsunami in Indonesia, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, floods, tornados, hurricanes

– Unexpected loss of a job

– The dissolution of a family, or of a dear friendship

There are many others, but these are often the top ones that can be life altering, that can leave people asking “why?” for a very long time and that can make life feel very unfair.

The fact that life is not always fair is the third of the five givens.

When we allow it, this given, like the others, also teaches us acceptance.  Furthermore, if we feel something unfair has happened to us, it also gives us the opportunity to reconcile emotions, situations, etc, rather than become bitter or seek revenge.  If we feel offended by something or someone, rather than punish (ourselves, others, the planet, the universe – through thought, words or actions), we are given a chance to forgive and feel compassion.

The ability to rise above this feeling of unfairness takes a great deal of strength and mindfulness, and it isn’t always easy, especially during times of great difficulty.  However we all have the capacity to do this even in the most unsettling life challenges.

Here are a few excerpts from “The Five Things We Cannot Change – Chapter 3: Life Is Not Always Fair” by David Richo.

From page 34:

Life is not always fair and neither are people, ourselves included.  Sometimes we are taken advantage of.  Sometimes we do all the right things and wind up losing.  Sometimes we act cautiously and are nonetheless hurt.  Others may be generous to us and yet we take advantage of their kindness.  Or we may act with good intentions toward others and yet our efforts go unappreciated or are misinterpreted.  The third given challenges our ability to grieve for the losses associated with unfairness.  This is our psychological work.  It also challenges us not to retaliate  against those who have hurt us.  This is our spiritual practice.  Both these together equal an unconditional yes to the unalterable law that things are not always fair: You win some; you lose some.

From page 36:

Retaliation does not balance things, since it harms the soul of the retaliator and creates a more severe imbalance.

From page 41:

In an immature spiritual consciousness we might pray: “Save me from the givens of life.”  In a mature spiritual consciousness we pray: “Be with me in the givens so I can handle them.  Stay with me in them rather than abrogate them for me.  I don’t want to miss out on all they can teach me.”


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