My father always said, “Life isn’t fair.” It was advice he would give me when I would start whining about how unfair things were. The point he was trying to make was that lamenting the fact that things didn’t go the way you wanted to was a waste of time.
I was always annoyed when he would say this, but he did it with a great deal of humor. I find myself saying similar things to my son.
One of the hardest parts of being a good ethical person and being a naturalist is that we have to accept that life isn’t fair. We can’t appeal to supernaturalism to level the playing field or to influence things in our direction.
We have to take things as they are. We understand that there is no cosmic law that says good people will thrive and that bad people will be punished. The world just doesn’t work that way. To a certain extent, life is random.
Despite all this, a Humanist will strive to be a good person and do the right thing, knowing that choosing to be a good person is no guarantee of success. To me, that is fairly easy to accept.
What is difficult is to watch people who cheat get ahead. That is when life truly isn’t fair. So, how can we Humanists and naturalists not loose heart when life isn’t fair? Well, it isn’t easy. Telling myself that the cheater isn’t very happy and that it will eventually catch up to them isn’t always satisfying. I mean, let’s face it, despite my adherence to a natural worldview, a little bit of cosmic revenge would be nice now and again.
It is usually while I am thinking of all the creative ways it would be nice for the universe to stick it to the cheater that I realize how silly I am being. My choice to be a good person isn’t about other people. It is a choice I make for me because of who I want to be.
I was reminded about this today. I was at the store and as I was heading to my car with my cart a man was looking around, got a cart that was left out and took it in with him. I felt like giving him a high five because very few people return their carts. I then put my cart back and as I was walking back to my car I realized just how many carts were left out. And yes, that saddened and annoyed me. But you know what. The fact that other people aren’t responsible is not something I can do anything about. I can only control my own choices. And I choose to be a good person who returns their shopping cart.
Life isn’t fair. And that’s ok. I’m going to continue doing my best anyway despite the fact that others cheat because that’s my choice. It’s the only thing I can control and I’m not going to give that up.
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