Thursday, March 15, 2007

When I was very young, my father sat me down and explained to me the best he could.

"Son," He said. "There's a secret that adults hide from kids. Always have, always will. They hide it from them because they think it's protecting them, keeping them happy. But I don't think that's true, I think it does more harm than good. So I'm going to tell you."

I leaned forward, with wide, curious eyes.

"Life is unfair." He told me. I was disappointed, because I'd heard this before, from a snarky cousin, or from a frustrated adult. He saw that I looked let down, and went on. "I know people have told you that before, and most of the time, they don't say it right. They say it like they're scolding you for being angry when something unfair happens to you, right?" I nodded. "Well, they shouldn't say it like that, but what I'm telling you isn't me scolding you. This is an important lesson, and I'll explain why. Okay?"

"Okay." I told him.

"Life is unfair. Good things happen to bad people. A person can spend their whole life doing great things, and then suddenly get very hurt or die for no good reason. And that's very sad. And it is unfair. And when anything unfair happens, little or big, it's okay to have some feelings about it, but it's also important not to let those feelings get out of control, and stop you from going on with your life. It's important that you understand, right from the start, that no matter what bad things might happen to you, no matter whose fault they are, it's your responsibility to keep trying, to keep living your life the way you want to live it, or as close to it as you can get. Because of all the bad things that can happen to person, one of the worst is to become someone who is angry at the things that are unfair, and who lets that get in the way of their life."

I nodded. I didn't quite understand, but I could tell that one day I would.

"Bad things do happen to people, but there are people who live their whole life like they're waiting for an apology from the world. And you know what? If they ever did get one, they'd find out they were no better off. Get it?"

"Sort of." I told him.

"As long as you're listening. You'll get it one day." He told me. He sighed for a minute, looking thoughtful, then looked down at me again. "I don't mean to say that you can't fight against injustice. Some injustice, you're supposed to fight against. Sometimes, when things are unfair, it's your duty to try and make them as fair as possible. But sometimes-- most of the time, even-- you have to make the decision that something that's only a little unfair isn't worth the fight. And some of the things that are the most unfair of all simply aren't guided by rules of any kind. They just happen. Those things, you just have to accept, and keep going."

"Oh." I said.

I never did thank him.


On with it.