Only You Are Responsible For Your Own Wellbeing - Part 2
- by Bryan Brubaker, Think Twice Educator Life is not fair. And that’s okay. Some people will have more advantages than you. You have more advantages than others. If you are in America or another First World country built on Western Civilization, then you have more advantages than anyone in recorded history. You have easy access to clean water. You have hot water on demand. You can stream more movies than your entire lifetime would allow you to watch. You have access to free healthcare. A stable electrical grid. Safe and reliable transportation. You have more advantages than anyone in recorded history. That does NOT mean you have the SAME advantages as everyone else. Nor does it mean you will have the same opportunities. For example, if you stay after class to ask your teacher about the math problem you can’t solve, you may find your teacher asking that cute girl to help tutor you after school, giving you the opportunity to get to know her as well as improve your math skills. However you may also miss the opportunity to go to the skatepark with your friends. The choices you make will determine the opportunities that become available to you. If you work hard at something, and keep trying – even if you keep failing and have to try again and again – you are developing perseverance, self-discipline and determination. These are character qualities – like trustworthiness that we talked about earlier – and they will help you to safely make your way in the world. It does not matter if you have the same advantages or opportunities as other people. What matters is that you capitalize on the advantages and opportunities you do have. But if you have no direction or goal, recognizing the advantages and opportunities you do have becomes just about impossible. If you don’t know what your destination is, then you won’t be able to tell what things are taking you towards it, and what things are taking you away from it. If you figure out where you want to go – in your career, in your living situation, in your money, in your friendships, in your education, in your family – then you can look at where you are and make a path from one to the other – the unfairness of life is just another dragon on your journey.
Humanity seems to have a cross-cultural concept of fairness – it is one of those universal concepts, like love and justice. But let’s admit it, it also seems we all want life to be a bit more fair to us than everyone else. There’s a saying, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, and sometimes you’re the bug.” Now fair would be you’re the windshield 50% of the time, and the bug 50% of the time, but it seems like every time we’re the bug, we scream, “It’s not fair!!” What gives me the right to think that life should be more fair to me, at the expense of being less fair to you? Let’s face it, sometimes life is going to kick you in the balls, and then again in the gut as you lay on the ground groaning in pain, and who wants that? Maybe our concept of fairness is somewhat selfishly skewed… And somehow it seems tragedy is not too terrible to bear provided there is some meaning to it. It’s not fair to be fired for not forging paperwork, for example, but that sure beats the “just following orders” defense when you’re getting prosecuted. So it seems we would need something outside of ourselves to keep our sense of fairness less selfish and more, well, fair. Something against which we can each place our concept of fairness and achieve a “fair-to-us-ness”. Kids do this when they make up games and modify the rules until they’re all happy with the game, and the game can perpetuate itself – that means they can keep playing the game over and over again and it is challenging and enjoyable at the same time. And I’ll tell you a secret: Society is nothing more than that, and the societies whose rules are based in the principles of Western Civilization offer the most opportunities to the most players in the game. And just like a little kid screaming “YOU CHEATED!!”, when the game of society isn’t played according to the rules there is outrage and indignation.
Have you ever noticed how different people seem to play by different sets of rules? When we don’t agree on the rules of the game – of life or school or job or date etc – then we seem to operate by our default rules, our default concept of fairness – yeah, that selfish one that wants it more fair to me and less fair to you. No wonder relationships can be so painful. This is where having and being able to establish healthy boundaries comes in to play. Boundaries in your relationships are like the rules of the game “Dating” or “Best Friend” or “Untrustworthy Skeezbag” and each game has different rules of engagement and levels of trust. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to make the move “give him a ride home” in the game “Untrustworthy Skeezbag”, but you probably would in the game “Best Friend” and you might be very careful about making that move in the game “Dating”. So, was it unfair to NOT give the ride to the untrustworthy skeezbag? And why’s that? He’s not trustworthy!! It’s not unfair, it’s using discernment.