If you asked either of my now adult children what their father taught them to expect from life, without a second’s hesitation they would both say: “It’s not fair!”
That’s from many lessons where they would bring to me—the righter of all planetary wrongs—some injustice or other; unfailingly leaving them with less than their expected compensation for participating in life’s activities.
I’ve often advocated for 10 year olds replacing all the seats in our judicial system. No one has a better sense of justice and fair-play than a fifth grader. That’s because at 10ish, you’re generally incapable of abstract thought. Everything is either black or white, right or wrong, there are no shades of gray that get us older more developed, wizened abstract thinkers into so much trouble.
You either told the truth or a lie, did or didn’t do what you said, you played fair or you cheated. So when some unfairness occurred in their concrete world of “do good – get good” I would ask: “and do you know why that is?” They would finish my sentence with: “Because life isn’t fair, aaagghh!”
But then we would go into: So since you know life isn’t fair, what are you going to do about it? What would it take to bring about justice in this situation? There’s not a lot we can do about the other fellow or an unjust system, the important thing is: What will our response to it be? Do you want to invest the time to correct the system, or can you avoid participating in it, or do you just want to acknowledge injustice and go on? Those are pretty much the options, and notice, whining isn’t on the list because while whining often makes us feel better, it doesn’t change anything.
All of that was an introduction to this confession. I wrote all 500 words of this letter last Tuesday, but fortunately for all of you, I never attached it nor hit send to Cassandra.
Last Monday you see, I attended a meeting of mostly small farmers organizing to fight the state over their unconstitutional treatment of us. What was wrong with my letter was it amounted to whining which wasn’t on the list of activities that would make things better.
Over the last three years, myself and a tiny handful of windmill topplers have taken on three giant issues facing small organic farmers; issues involving the State, giant retailers, and bureaucracy. We were always out gunned, advised that: ‘life isn’t fair so just live with it,’ but we had the moral high ground, and we prevailed in all three; in the last case actually getting an Assembly bill passed and signed by the Governor. I never wrote about those issues in this format, and I almost broke that rule a few days ago in which case, you’d have received 500 words of whine with no cheese (unless you ordered it from the pantry).
So Uncle Vern, why write about something you didn’t write about? Because I sense a lot of despair in our country, a feeling that regardless which candidate wins in a couple weeks, things are only going to get worse. The important thing is our response. We can either invest the time to correct the system, avoid participating, or acknowledge it’s messed-up and go on, that’s pretty much the three choices, and whining isn’t on the list because whining doesn’t change anything.
I would say from experience that when you have the moral high ground and choose to righteously confront injustice, little people of action can make dramatic improvements in our society. Go get ‘em and eat healthy!