Jay Rifenbary

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Unfairness - Perceived or Real

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Have you ever felt that life has treated you unfairly? What does that question mean? Is life unfair, and if so in what context? Is life unfair for those who have a physical or mental illness, who come from a broken home, who grow up in an impoverished, drug and crime ridden neighborhood as compared to those who do not? Is life unfair for those who do not come from a monetarily successful family as compared to those who do? Is life unfair for those who experience the doors of social and economic opportunity close on them, yet open for others? Throughout my life there have been times where I have questioned why certain things happen to certain people, including myself. Is it being in the right place at the right time, or possibly being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Is it fate, karma, coincidence, circumstance, society, who you know, some spiritual intervention, genetic makeup, or just the luck of the draw that determines what is considered fair or unfair? Is unfairness real, perceived, or both?

How emotionally distraught do you become when you perceive unfairness in your own life? How does that distress impact your attitude, drive, and resiliency to persevere through that perceived unfairness? Understanding the role of what you do and do not have control over is key to lessening the detrimental impact of perceived unfairness. There are many significant factors that have contributed to the formation of your life that you did not have control over. Your genes, parents, siblings, relatives, place of birth, the social and economic environment your were born into, having been a victim of abuse or nature's wrath are all examples of what you had no control over. However, to use what you had, or presently have no control over to justify unfairness in your life resulting in unhappiness, a lack of self-respect and a sense of failure is a choice. Why would you choose to allow what you do not have control over to override what you do have control over? You have control over your attitude, beliefs, behaviors, how you treat those you love and those who love you, and adhering to the core values that you wish to reflect your character. A meaningful life is not as much about the cards you are dealt, but rather how you decide to play your cards. To be optimistic in the face of adversity, to persevere in the face of self-doubt, and to maintain integrity in the face of unethical temptation are decisions to improve each hand your dealt and improve your chances of succeeding in your life's journey.

Real unfairness relates to the day-to-day treatment of others rather then the perceived unfairness of what your life started with or without; and working to eliminate that day-to-day unfairness is a cause worth fighting for. Unfairness is defined as, “not based on or behaving according to the principles of equality and justice: unkind, inconsiderate, or unreasonable.” Any discrimination of another based on race, greed, color, gender or sexual orientation is an example of real unfairness. A society that ignores such unfairness ignores the very potential of all humanity. Whether perceived or real it is still your decision to allow unfairness to be used as either a life long detriment, or a catalyst and motivator to persevere and live a productive and purposeful life. To think as a victim is to surrender your life to something or someone outside of yourself. To think as a winner is to internally believe you have the potential to overcome any obstacle or level of unfairness, perceived or real that would prevent you from becoming the best person you can be. To succumb to unfairness is to accept personal and professional defeat. It requires personal accountability to overcome the perceived unfairness of the things you did and do not have control over; and the courage of conviction to act in overcoming the real unfairness of how much of humanity is treated. To be fair is to be just, and to be just is to be fair. Let us all strive to focus on fairness toward one another, and less on using perceived unfairness as an excuse not to live a fulfilled and meaningful life.



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