As a parent I am tasked with educating my children in the ways of the world. This is a tall order when you think about it as it includes educating them about manners, laws, ethics, morals, rules, and things we have no words to explain adequately. In this labyrinth of cultural diversity is it any wonder we find ourselves hearing the dejected refrain muttered by every child since the dawn of time?
“It’s not fair!”
First off, no, it isn’t. Life is not fair.
Fair is when everyone plays by the same rules, but in order for that to happen everyone must agree on what the rules are. We do not. Everything is subject to dissent and objection for one reason or another.
As parents many of the limits we set for our children are done so because of our beliefs for what is in their best interests whether that be what we think will keep our children safe in this life or what we believe may come in the next. Those two things get muddled quite often. I say muddled because for all we believe, we really do not know what comes after we die. We were not born, created, or evolved to know–we only have the capacity to believe.
In this unfair existence I do the best I can to prepare my children. I lead by example, hoping they understand. Fairness is a concept that is important to me, even as I understand that life is not fair. I believe in equality for all. I believe that kindness and courtesy should precede respect, which must be earned, and disdain, which should be tempered by forgiveness and graciousness. Teaching that is very difficult.
Laws can be made that are not fair to all citizens. Rules can be made that are not fair to all players. Ethics vary based on the value of life which people do not distribute equally. So, where does that leave me as a parent?
*Photo: Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th, obtained through Flickr.