The Myth of Fairness

Philo T. Farnsworth.

You should know who he is.

You don’t, but you should.

He made one gigantic contribution to mankind, one that most people experience every single day, often for hours at a time.  But I’ll bet you couldn’t find one person in a thousand who could tell you what he did.  Maybe not one in a million.

On January 27, 1927, Mr. Farnsworth, then a 19 year-old farm boy, filed a patent on an invention called “television.”  Two years later he transmitted a Mickey Mouse  cartoon, Steamboat Willie, from his Philadelphia laboratory to his home a few miles away.*  Ironically, the man who invented the technology was forgotten but the character that appeared on the screen became an icon.

The next time you gather with your friends to watch the big game, or giggle at the silliness of Barney Fife, or steal a recipe from one of your favorite TV chefs, you’ll have ol’ Philo to thank.  But you won’t.  Nor will I.  Most of us live so much for the moment that we don’t think about–nor do we care about–the pioneers who went before us.  We just like their stuff.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

But who said life was fair?

Apparently someone did, because millions of people gripe and complain all day long about this or that injustice, as if they expect life to be perfectly fair and are shocked and offended when it isn’t.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul chastises the believers he’s writing to because they’re suing one another right and left.  In verse 7 he says, “Even to have such lawsuits with one another is a defeat for you.  Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?”

Why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that?

Good question.

Can you imagine how much stress, anger, frustration, and bitterness we could eliminate if we’d just accept the fact that fairness is a myth in this world, and leave it at that?  I’m not suggesting that in some extreme cases we shouldn’t fight injustice.  I’m simply saying that as we live day to day, we have a choice to either whine and complain about every little unfair thing that happens, or accept it and move on.

The other day I was driving through a hospital parking lot looking for an empty parking space that apparently didn’t exist.  The guy in the car in front of me (who was also looking for a place to park) saw someone preparing to back out, so he stopped to wait.  When the parking space was vacated, a sports car whipped around the corner from the other direction and stole the spot.

I thought, Uh oh.  Here we go.

Sure enough, the guy in the car in front of me got out of his vehicle and yelled and screamed at the other driver, who simply walked away like he didn’t have a care in the world.

This, friends, is life.  Get used to it.  Save yourself a heart attack.  Just accept the injustice and leave it at that.

For further reflection read Proverbs 22:8, Psalm 58:10.

*Pat Williams, How to Be Like Walt (Deerfield Beach: HCI, 2004), 232

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2 Responses to The Myth of Fairness

  1. Marg says:

    Mark not good for a Friday morning! I wish I could spell the Italian word Adjeda (?) for heartburn, stomach upset because that is what unfairness at times gives me for sure. things can really get to me and I always say how can people accept that or this? I know we are not promised fairness in this world but come on I cannot be the only one who it gets to. I will pray on it. lThanks Mark I do know it is not mine to judge 🙂

    • Dolores says:

      Marg…..two choices each morning (even Friday) when you get out of bed.
      To have a good day or to have a bad day. My hubby can let things roll off
      his shoulders. I on the other hand would be just like the guy screaming.

      A thought though… hubby probably has more good days than me.
      I give my worries and anger to God and then am forever taking it back.

      I better pray about that also!!!! Thanks Mark

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