Unfortunately, There’s Really No Such Thing As “Fair”

“Fair” is kind of like the Buddhist notion of “Bodhisattva”. A Bodhisattva is someone on the road to enlightenment. But they’re not there yet. If they think they’re there? They’re definitely not “there”. Enlightenment is as hard a goal to achieve as “fair” is. It’s more surreal than real, more abstract than plastic.

And it’s so personal. What’s fair to me might not be fair to you. Even when we compromise (the goal, really), if the compromise is “fair”? Neither of us will like it much; it’s not “fair”.

“Fair” gets harder when there are multiple competing interests whose concept of “fair” contradicts one another. Maybe the problem is we value “fair” to the individual over “fair” to the group. Assuming everyone’s rights are being respected (a big assumption), it’s hard to justify being fair to one person at the expense of a large chunk of everyone else.

When we say “All men are created equal”, we better mean “everyone” is created equal — before the law (which is what it means). If the Law treats everyone fairly — that is, “equally”, there’s a better chance we’ll feel that we’ve been treated fairly. That’s all we can ask. It’s the consistency that creates a basis for “fairness” in our minds. That’s why the Rule Of Law — as a concept — gives us the best possible chance to experience the most “fairness” for the most people.

Racism is inherently unfair. Ditto bigotry, misogyny and every other form of irrational, ignorant hatred.

But, just like “fair” is a human construct, so’s the Rule Of Law. We invented it. And though we want to think it’s “automatic” or autonomous, it isn’t. It does not self-perpetuate. It’s not some perpetual motion machine. We have to care for these ideas and nurture them. We have to renew both the ideas and our passion for them.

As the Trump years have taught us, if you start taking “fairness” for granted, you’re doomed to a life of perpetual unfairness. Minority rule — as an example? Not fair. Mitch McConnell hijacking the judiciary — to give hard core conservative judges power over an increasingly progressive majority? Not even remotely fair. Committing treason to win the presidency in 2016? Don’t get me started…

“Fair” is a muscle we have to exercise every single day. We have make sure we’re being fair — despite the unfairness around us. If we don’t exercise our own sense of fair — that is, fair for the group — our “fairness” muscle will atrophy, wither and die. Before long, we’ll become like every Trump supporter. Their idea of “fair” begins and ends with them.

You want fair? Be fair. Have receipts ready to demonstrate what real fairness looks like. Be prepared to persist. “Unfair” is the bully’s preference and there are plenty of bullies around.

What This Country MEANS To Me (America IS Exceptional — When Republicans GET OUT OF OUR WAY…)

I have a mixed marriage.  I am American and my wife is British (now also American).  My children are mixed – British & American Nationals.

I have contemplated becoming like them – a Bi-National.

And yet — I have always had reservations about doing such a thing — because, on some level, I feel like I would ‘become’ a little ‘less American’ in order to be ‘A Little Bit British’.

It’s crazy, I know.  Stupid and irrational.  But it’s there, in my gut — and I can deny it all I like but it’s there:  I AM AN AMERICAN THROUGH & THROUGH.

This country has ‘IMPRINTED’ something on me that I can only call ‘I’m An American’.  I take incredible pride (most of the time) in what that means (or SHOULD mean) to the rest of the world.  It is a vital part of how I define myself — to the World and to myself.  I start each day having certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS because of where I was born, who I was born to and what Nationality THEY were.

Despite all the bullshit and nonsense that gets thrown at all Americans as they grow up in American Culture on their way to Becoming Full Fledged ‘Americans’, there IS a CORE CONCEPT that has become ‘The American Ideal’ — the conceptual BEACON whose radiance has attracted hopeful people for 240+ years:

If you are willing to work your ass off — and be a good citizen while doing it — America is THE place where ANYONE can ‘MAKE SOMETHING’ of themselves.

That is what has brought so many bright, talented, hopeful people from all over the World to this place.  THIS IS AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM.

It ain’t White Christian Men circle jerking each other — that’s for sure.

Now — full disclosure — I grew up upper middle class in an upper middle class (Jewish) suburb outside of Baltimore in the 60’s & 70’s.  I had a LOT more privilege than LOTS of other people.  I had advantages and opportunities they didn’t.  It was not a level playing field.  I know that and it disturbs me.

America always provided me with opportunity (with the occasional, unspoken ‘we’ve already allowed enough Jews in the door, can ya try again later maybe?’).  Every dream I ever imagined — provided I was willing to provide the Sweat Equity — had a reasonable chance at getting off the ground at least.  The fairness we aspire to has been slow to actually stand up on its own two feet.  It’s getting more help recently.  Lots more women to make SURE Fairness not only gets to stand up but gets to STAY up.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if ‘Fairness’ became a thing again.  How about ‘Fair’ Elections — radical notion, right?

‘FAIRNESS’ has always been pretty illusory in America.  It’s always depended where you stood as to whether ‘Fairness’ would come your way.  But I grew up believing that ‘Fairness’ actually existed in America — that it COULD exist here.  The more diverse America becomes, curiously, the more FAIR it becomes — and the more EXCEPTIONAL it becomes.

So, to me — FAIRNESS isn’t a thing unto itself, it is the BOTTOM LINE on which ALL THINGS REST.

Everyone gets a FAIR shot here.  Or no one does.  That’s what ‘America’ means to me.  It’s that simple.

As I witness the republican party urinating & defecating all over the very notion of ‘Fairness’, I mourn for a piece of us.  It never WAS capable of ‘Fairness’ and we were fooling ourselves that it ever was capable.  There’s something dark, nasty and — okay, EVIL — at America’s core.  It sits right beside everything that’s good.

It’s always been there, too.

But I also believe that ‘Fairness’ can overcome that, too.  Because ‘Fairness’ — when practiced — produces real, palpable results:  At the End of The Day, Everybody Wins.

And that, too, is how I think America is supposed to work…