The first time I stood in front of a judge I’d been a minor in the vicinity of an open container and asked her how it could be fair that someone who wasn’t drinking could be charged for possession, while someone who was drinking could be found not guilty.
I’ll spare you the hypocritical details and just fast forward to her clarifying that fairness was sometimes different than justice, and that one didn’t necessarily require the other, and yeah, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing or that what I was hearing was coming from a judge.
Standing there in my Sunday best, without a lawyer like the ones my more connected friends had, I immediately began thinking of all the ways justice could be viewed as criminal, when viewed through the double-sided lens of fairness, and let’s just say I began to live differently and think of fairness as something the haves could afford while the have-nots were offered justice instead.
“Life isn’t fair,” my father used to broken-record like it was something I had to let sink into me if I was to grow wise and be at peace with my life. But the troublemaker inside me didn’t buy that that could be the only way. Sure, life wasn’t fair. But nobody ever proved you had to stand for it, or that there wasn’t a way to fight unfairness and make it a little more comfortable at the very least.
Now the subject of fairness in our lives has spread, not like a disease, but more like a new form of slapstick, and on the news I’ll watch today they’ll be plenty of it to listen to as I spread peanut butter on saltines and sip on ice water I can barely afford.
But I won’t hear the word fairness said once. Instead, I’ll hear strangers translate real tragedy into vague what ifs and false consequences that sound like elevated nonsense prose,
like what might or could happen should a consequence ensue such and such, and if this and that or whatever will be then well, this or that should occur, if it does in fact occur etc…
Ironically, everything that’s said and not said about fairness will fly in the stone hard face of common sense and be totally out of order, though in the vein of Frost’s “Sound and Sense,” will come off like a scene where a call to action to band together and stand up for what’s right is heard by a someone’s child with his ear to the wall, listening for a direction that may not be there, but will have to be there nonetheless.