I always try to be fair.
If I have a piece of chocolate, I make sure Sweetheart gets a piece of chocolate. If I cut up a pie, I make sure we share it equally. If I eat broccoli, I insist that Sweetheart eats broccoli — whether he likes it or not.
When it’s time to choose teams, I insist that it not be men against the women. There’s enough contention between the genders. Playing against each other should not breed more hostility.
When I was in sixth grade, I had just moved to a new school. The first day of school, the boys were choosing sides for a game of softball. When they were done, Carol and I were left standing. The boys said they didn’t want any girls on their team. Little did they know that Carol could knock the ball over the fence (if there was one) and, in the fifth grade at my old school, I had caught the fly ball to right field that won the game for my team.
Well, my friend Frank spoke up for Carol and me. He said we could play, “as good as a boy.” They were getting close to fisticuffs when Frank, who was a little fellow and wiry, said to George, who was tall and lanky, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” To which George replied, “The littler they are, the farther they fly.” I think the bell rang just then, because they never did come to blows.
The upshot of it was that the teacher said we had to have separate teams — one for the girls and one for the boys. I was bummed, because the girls played like — well, girls. They couldn’t even hold the bat right. I did have the satisfaction, though, of knowing that I “played like a boy.”
When my daughter, who had two brothers, was a teenager, she said that something wasn’t fair on this one particular day. I don’t remember what it was. Was she not allowed to go somewhere? Was she forced to eat more broccoli than her brothers? My words of consolation (if you want to call them that) were, “Life isn’t fair.”
Once, when I was conferring with one of my daughter’s teachers, we were talking about how smart she was and how she did so well at some of the intellectual games they played. He did have a caveat, though. He said, “I hate it when she loses.” I wonder if fairness entered into his observation.
I have learned through the years that even though you may try to be just and kind to others, someone is going to put a sprag in your wheel. Some people are just mean — even downright evil. Life just isn’t fair. Not only do bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people. Do you call that fair?
I hate to hear and see stories of abuse and neglect; of hunger and poverty; of loneliness and despair; of hatred and violence. I like to spread fairness and cheerfulness; kindness and charity; time and love. I know lots of people who do the same. It gives me a feeling of satisfaction and, I’m sure, it does the same for others.
However, it looks like evil will always be lurking around the corner. All of the laws, all of the restrictions, all of the controls will not completely eradicate it. It’s not fair, but it’s what we’ve got.
My brother used to say, “You can’t legislate common sense.” You can’t legislate fairness either. And, even if you did, would everybody stick to it? Some people just don’t play fair.
(Dorothy Knight Burchett is a former newspaper columnist and the author of “Miles and Miracles,” available at Pokeberry Exchange in New Castle and on Amazon.)