So Life is Unfair, Is It?
Seems like a simple word and a simple concept, doesn't it? Care to define it, though?
Synonyms abound, such as arbitrary, biased, cruel, discriminatory, dishonest, illegal, immoral, improper, inequitable, inexcusable, one-sided, partisan, prejudiced... well, you get the idea.
Our president is fond of the word unfair. He almost always uses the word to infer that somehow, someone has purposely made someone else's life a real trial for them. He also infers that he firmly believes that the synonyms "discriminatory" and "prejudiced" are the words that we should immediately substitute in our minds when he says "unfair" out loud.
Yet there is yet another word that is occasionaly used in place of unfair, and that would be "unfortunate." Unfortunate really means something completely different. It literally just means "unlucky." The biggest difference between the two words is that if something is unfair, it is at least theoretically possible to correct by a change in culture, or by way of legislation. If it is unfortunate, no such correction can take place.
Take the DNA in your body right now, as you read this. You are the product of your DNA, and in some cases that can be extremely unfortunate. Two genetic diseases come to mind easily, Tay-Sachs disease, and sickle-cell anemia. While these two genetic disorders occur within all populations, Tay-Sachs is more than usually found in Jews, while sickle-cell anemia is found primarily in black African populations, or those who are descendants of black Africans.
These diseases are frequently disabling and sometimes fatal. But is the fact that they are concentrated in Jewish populations in the case of Tay-Sachs, or in black African populations in the case of sickle-cell, unfair? Could Congress pass legislation that outlaws the defective gene that causes these diseases? Could through something along the lines of "sensitivity training" or "re-education" change the way these diseases are distributed among populations? Of course not.
I know that I didn't get too much luck with my own DNA, for example. I can say that because since no matter how much I might practice, I'm pretty sure that I will never beat Tiger Woods on a golf course. (Unless we only count my score for nine holes, but his for eighteen.) I will never be a quarterback for the NFL, or a point guard for the NBA. I will never sing for the Metropolitan Opera. I will never win a Nobel Prize. (Although, if I look at Al Gore and Barack Obama, I could be wrong about that assumption.)
Some people have better brains than others and do better in school and often in life. Is it realistic to assume that the Common Core Standards being forced upon the entire country will alter that basic truth? Some people are born looking like Sophia Loren, while others tend to resemble that great character actress Margaret Hamilton, whose most famous role was the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz. Is that in any way unfair, or simply unfortunate? It's not as if Ms. Loren earned her beauty. Being born good looking is not exactly an achievement. Nor was Ms. Hamilton the victim of a discriminatory plot that made her the perfect Wicked Witch.
Is it unfair that children raised in single-parent households don't, in general, do as well in school as those reared in the traditional family setting? If that's unfair, who should be blamed? Society in general? Or, in Obama's worldview, just Republicans?
Is it unfair that a doctor, who started working toward that goal in grammar school, worked endless hours studying in high school to be admitted into a pre-med program in a top college, just so they could then get admitted into a top tier medical school and finally spend years as an intern and resident while honing their craft get paid more than a man who spent his school years mostly cutting classes or getting suspended? Again, if it is unfair, who exactly was it that discriminated against the kid who didn't work as hard as the doctor, who didn't have any goal?
Obama's use of this baseless concept of "fair" versus "unfair" weakens the entire social fabric of America. When we can write off everything as being the result of some kind of unfair treatment, or unfair evaluation, not because of something we ourselves have done but because someone else purposely hurt us, then personal responsibility goes out the window. And because Obama tries to convince his devotees that they are victims of this "unfair" treatment, he always has a receptive audience for each new "necessary" program that he proposes. Hang the cost! We must eliminate this unfairness!
Now we could try to get Obama to stop using the snake oil term "fair", but we would first have to make water run uphill. Or I would have to really be able to beat Tiger Woods.
For Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, Tea Party people and anyone who sees through Obama's rhetoric, the only way to deal with this is to speak out, plainly, not glibly, and call him out on the nonsense he's trying to peddle.
There are lots of things that really are unfortunate, but not nearly as many as things that Obama thinks are unfair.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy and American cultural idiocy. Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org