Protests my oldest daughter when she is told she has to clean her room, put dirty clothes in the hamper, take care of the clean ones...before she can have the car for the night.
"Life's not fair," I answer back, not feeling particularly horrible for imposing such a terrible restriction upon her.
Hmmmm....that's quite a statement there, my girl. You are right - life is not fair. Not often. Maybe not even ever. And thank goodness for that. She thinks life isn't fair because, well, because she is 17. She thinks she has restrictions and rules and impositions, and that I, as the adult, do not. She can't wait to be all grown-up so she can do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. You know, like I do.
But, we only ever really utter the "life's not fair" credo when we aren't getting something that we want, or when life isn't going as we want. When life is awesome, we don't scream, "This isn't fair!" But maybe that's the time we should think about it the most.
I venture to guess nothing would humble us much more than comtemplating what true fairness would mean to us. Even keeping the concept of living the 100 Mile Life - where we buy only local food, and support local charities, and attend local festivals, and virtually self-contain our lives within that 100 mile radius - even then, the vast majority of us should be on our knees thanking the Good Lord for making life "not fair."
As I type this, someone we know is recovering from a devastating fire that took her entire house, every possession she and her 14-year-old son have - all their photographs, all their clothes, the simplest items - socks, a toothbrush, everything, gone. And a co-worker's infant grandson was taken to hospital this morning for an operation for pyloric stenosis. A "routine" operation by most accounts, but when its your tiny baby - and you just found out it was going to happen hours before, it feels anything by routine. So not fair.
And in that same hospital, no doubt there is a child who is struggling to live - perhaps one just diagnosed with cancer, or a condition that will end his or her life entirely too soon. A moment has happened, and a family's life is forever changed. Not fair, not fair, not fair.
A 70-car pile up in Montreal yesterday surely reminded many people of what is important to them, even as they deal with the hassle of repairing or replacing cars. No one died, and for that, it was a good day.
Within a 100 miles of us, a homeless person will walk into a shelter, desperate for a warm place to sleep, a warm plate of food, just as my 'not fair' girl has said, "yuck, we had that last night:" as I put the pot of homemade soup I made yesterday on the stove to heat for dinner. Not fair?
Within a hundred miles of us, perhaps tonight a marriage is ending, and with it begins a world of change for a husband, a wife, and their children. And although it maybe the best thing that ever happened to their family, tonight, among the sorrow, they will struggle to see it. And our family, for all its imperfections, and there are many, will be together tonight. Not fair?
And within a hundreds miles of us, maybe someone is planning a second honeymoon to Italy tonight - a trip my family cannot even fathom at the moment. Perhaps a teenager is getting a new car as a reward for a great report card. So not fair, says my teen.
Someone near us is surely falling in love, celebrating a "+" sign on a pregnancy test, going into labor, making their last mortgage payment. Not fair, thinks I, who's already seen most those milestones, but still remembers them with fondness and longing.
Somewhere near us, someone is laughing at funny email, smiling at the re-connection of an old friend on facebook.
Somewhere near us, something bad is happening to a really good person, and something good is happening to a not so good person. So not fair.
And all of this mixed-up jumbled-up world of fair and unfair; a world that makes perfect sense one moment and then absolutely no sense at the very next is just a part of this crazy thing we call a life.
May we remember to be thankful when something wonderful and incredible happens to us, and humble when something devastating happens - mostly, may we remember that this life of ours really isn't fair. And especially, may we be among the fortunate to get a taste of each dish - the bitter and the sweet.