"It isn't FAIR!"
How often have we heard that whine from our children?
We used to respond with: "Life isn't fair!" or "I never promised you a rose garden."
It seemed an appropriate answer to childish or adolescent complaints. But not any more. We are being destroyed by an adolescent culture, by grown-ups who no longer feel the need to grow up. Who think they are entitled. Therefore the concept of FAIRNESS now rules. Everyone better damn be equal---or else!
I remember when I first became aware of the growing trend for FAIRNESS. In the early 80's, I think. The American Scholar magazine had an article about questionable legislation that had just been passed. Don't know where, at this point; don't know by whom. But the writer's main complaint was that trouble begins when FAIR stops being an adjective and becomes a policy. So someone has to pass a law.
And, too often, that law is based on an anecdote, not on sound law. Someone was denied entrance to a public building? (As a random example). Perhaps because they were intoxicated? Violent? Clearly disturbed and dangerous? Whatever. But they complain. And now a law has to be passed, in the name of FAIRNESS, which forbids anyone, ever, from being denied entrance to any public building. EVER! Drunk, disorderly, menacing? Doesn't matter. It's the law! It's being FAIR. (Or they can sue.We mustn't forget how much the lawyers and their propensity for frivolous lawsuits has affected our culture and made cowards of us all.)
I remember reading that article and sarcastically commenting to my husband that it wasn't FAIR that I was married and had children and therefore I couldn't ever be in the running for Miss America. I insisted that they should pass a law making discrimination against women like me illegal. Because it wasn't FAIR.
Absurd? Not by today's standards!
Did you know that students at a Midwestern college are demanding that the school erase any grade below a C? It's just too difficult for them, when they take time off from studying to attend protest rallies, and it isn't FAIR that others (who maybe stayed in the dorm and studied?) get better grades!
And did you hear about the school system that is proposing to ban tight pants for the girls because the bigger girls were getting bullied when they wore them? And it isn't FAIR! How about---don't wear tight pants, girls, if they don't suit you? But of course that would put the responsibility on the students to be sensible---and that clearly isn't FAIR!
And how about a study on air rage that found that it increased when passengers had to go through First Class to get to their seats. Obviously, it wasn't FAIR that others got more perks than they did! So they had a right to act out on the flight!
And of course the whole political emphasis on "Income Inequality?" Clearly, that isn't FAIR. Why should Nora Roberts make a fortune on her writing and I don't? And don't use words like "talent" or "luck" to me! In our Brave New World of FAIR, everyone has to be equal. Remember? And so we have to excoriate the fortunate, and insist they share with people less well-off than they are. Because it isn't FAIR otherwise.
You know what I see when I read about or see these complaints? I see selfishness and envy!
When I was growing up, there were rich people and poor people. Smart people and dumb people. Lucky people and unlucky people. Lazy people and productive people. But we mostly didn't know about them unless they were in our immediate circle of friends and neighbors. So we were content with what we had and with who we were.
Then two things happened. Television and the Victim Culture.
TV showed us people in sitcoms and other family shows who were supposed to be just like us, but who clearly lived better than we did. (And don't forget "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.") And because envy is an ugly vice, we had to turn our vice into a virtue. We weren't complaining for OURSELVES, you understand. We just didn't think it was FAIR that others didn't live as well as the TV people did. Obviously, if they lived better than we did, it wasn't FAIR, and we lowly folk were clearly helpless Victims of some vague "system."
And the concept of Victim-hood was seductive, since it meant that nothing was ever OUR fault. I remember trying to raise four children in the '60s and '70s, the time of the burgeoning drug culture, Every single show with a troubled youth---detective, comedy, mystery, adventure---always showed that the young person's behavior was not his/her fault. It was always the fault of an abusive parent, a drunken parent, a vicious teacher, a domineering police officer, a nasty neighbor, etc. That made it very difficult to raise kids with a sense of responsibility, a sense that THEY were in charge of their behavior and couldn't blame it on others.
(As a sidebar---all four turned out fine. My husband and I, traveling with the kids asleep in the back of the station-wagon, would turn to each other and say with delight and relief, "Four out of four ain't bad!")
And envy, of course, leads to a sense of entitlement ("You OWE me!"), which turns people inward, which leads to selfishness and narcissism.
Moreover, we can't be judgmental. That implies a ranking---THIS is better than THAT, which destroys the insistence on equality. Which isn't FAIR.
So we're afraid to make rules, to rein in our adolescent spoiled brats; we rush to ease the pain of anyone who claims he is offended by ANYTHING! Because it isn't FAIR that something offends someone!
I nearly spit into my coffee reading an article about a professor who is so obsessed with FAIRNESS that he thinks that parents who read bedtime stories to their kids should feel guilty, because of the children who don't have such thoughtful parents! According to him, they are "UNFAIRLY disadvantaging" others.
(As a sidebar---I;m sorry to say that I think much of the pernicious and destructive thinking among the young people today has been fomented by so-called educators, who are, themselves, only half-grown-up products of the '60s. and '70s)
I touched on this briefly in a follow-up note in my last blog, where I said the following:
I think the real problem began in the seventies, with the "Victim" Movement. Nothing was ever one's fault---there was always someone else to blame. An easy out. And of course being judgmental was a no-no. and from that developed the asinine "self-esteem" movement, spearheaded by the schools. If there was no judgement, and everyone was a victim, then everyone was equal.(Trophies for all? Of course!) And if it took phony self-esteem props to make everyone FEEL equal, so be it.
All in the name of FAIRNESS, or course! Not to mention how self-righteous it is to trumpet FAIRNESS---especially if it doesn't affect YOU directly.
So by all means, let's pass laws charging 5 cents for every plastic shopping bag---doesn't affect the politician who made up the law, only the people managing to scrape by on their meager incomes. And it feels so NOBLE to announce such a law! In FAIRNESS to the environmentalists.
We have become a selfish, envious, adolescent, narcissistic culture. I don't want to get sued. I don't want to look "mean". I don't want to be judgmental. I want praise for my sanctimonious moral stance---my emphasis on FAIRNESS. And, in the name of FAIRNESS, I want MINE!
So where the hell is MY rose garden?