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World is Not Fair Might is Right

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NEW YORK, United States of America- I see kids throwing temper tantrums, I see parents disciplining their kids with the regularity of a corrections officer — always making their rounds of discipline on cue. I now watch parents  to see how they interact with their kids, I watch to get tips on the best ways to interact with Petra.

I cannot help but to notice that an inherent sense of justice has been instilled in the children of the USA, a socialized construct of an ideal of fairness. To a kid in the USA, fairness seems akin to holiness, that unfairness is somehow an affront against the sanctity of the world.

“NOT FAIR!!!!!!” the little kid whines.

They are taught that the world is fair just to be told later on that “Life’s not fair.”

Little kids in the USA fight over possessions as though it were their occupation, they easily comprehend the concept of private property from the start — this is mine and that is yours. This is perhaps one of the most treasured beliefs in the USA. But what happens when someone tries to take you property?

I watch one child take a toy car from another. There are plenty of cars to play with, but the first child wanted that particular car back. “I had it first, I had it first!” She yelled. It seemed as if she wanted that car more on the principle that she had it first rather than really wanting it. There were tons of cars and toys in the room.

That’s not fair.

An adult soon walks over to mediate — “Who had the car first?” — and restores proper justice.

Ten minutes later the call of “no fair!” is risen again, and the adult again returns to establish a proper equilibrium. The afternoon goes on like this. I can only take solace in the fact that these kids will soon be told, “Life’s not fair.”

The socialization process of rearing children in America is to provide them with an iron clad sense of justice and fairness — that the world is neatly ordered, that you should follow the leader, sit on your hands, don’t touch your neighbor, walk in a straight line, single file, behind the person in front of you, don’t step on people’s feet, don’t pick your nose and wipe your boogers on the underside of the table. This process shows that rules are good and should be followed: that the world is a fair, sensical place.

And then a bigger kid comes and takes your toy car. You wail and plead for justice, you appeal to a higher authority — an adult, a parent, a teacher perhaps — and this authority comes and gets you your toy car back and sets every thing fair again.

But one of these days there will not be a parent around to appeal to, and when someone comes up and takes your toy there will be nobody to help. You will need to deal with the situation yourself, the idea of fairness is no longer a cloak for you to hide behind, you will need to break through the passive aggressiveness that was instilled in you from birth and either take your toy back yourself, or walk away with your head down.

Life’s not fair: you will be fired, laid off, cheated, robbed, and bullied throughout your life if you allow it to happen. This is a given. What do you do when the harbingers of fairness are now the ones who are taking your toys?

The trick, in my impression, is to learn how deal with your situation yourself. I have no idea why we prepare our children in the USA based on the false pretenses of a world that is fair, a world where people are equal. People are not equal and the world is not fair. I observe children being taught lessons that have absolutely no bearing on the world they will actually come to live in. In this world, it is the biggest kid who gets the toys, the strongest, most capable, intelligent, well connected, and privilledged takes all.

Fairness has nothing to do with anything, it is an irrelevent concept.

So when Petra comes running up to me some day crying that another kid took her toy, I will look at her blankly and tell her to deal with it herself. If she goes back and beats the other kid to a pulp, I will tell her, “good work, you are learning to live in the society you will come to inherit.” If Petra finds a way to get her toy back through wit or guile, then I will tell her that she is cultivating the tools needed to be successful in the world she is growing into.

A muscle is only strengthened through pushing it to its limits — strength is gained best through full muscular collapse. A person only learns how to navigate their world by being tried, pushed, and challenged. It is my impression that a person can only meet these challenges by knowing the true place that they stand in. Expecting fairness is to hide under a blanket of false security — it is to hide from the world.

The biggest kid gets the most toys, this is the world we live in — it has always been this way, this is normal. Fairy tale constructs of fairness perhaps just raises a society of passive aggressive weakerthans who feel perpetually victimized, downtrodden, screwed — a country of whiners screaming, “NOT FAIR!” Might is right, fairness is irrelevant, in terms of global justice, there are perhaps no other lesson beyond this:

Land, power, countries, wealth, resources, control goes to the person strong enough to take it. Something does not need to be right to be normal.

I am not arrogant enough to believe that I live in the wisest generation of humans who has ever existed on the planet, I cannot say that we have it right and 1.5 million years of human cultural evolution had it all wrong. I am just not that arrogant.

Precedent has determined that right is the reservation of those strong enough to take it.

In my experience, I have found it less arduous to devise strategies to adapt myself to the world rather than trying to force the world to adapt to me.

I do not cry “no fair.”

No fair is the rule of the world we live in, perhaps it is better to learn it sooner rather than later.

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Filed under: Culture and Society, Family, New York, North America, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap

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