Children say it – scream it, rather – all the time.
“It’s not fair!”
This cry rings out from every corner of every playground in the world. John got a bigger cookie than Josh. “It’s not fair!” Kelly was skipped over for a turn on the swing. “It’s not fair!” Michelle changed where home base was midway through the game of hide-and-seek. “It’s not fair!”
At some point during late childhood, this cry becomes quieter, an annoyed mumble rather than a yell of outrage. By late adolescence, it has gone entirely. When adults experience or witness injustice, rather than crying out, we shrug our shoulders and note that the world usually isn’t fair, our outrage replaced by a mute learned helplessness.
During my work over the past nine months in the International Institute of Buffalo’s Victim Services Department, where we serve foreign-born victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, I have rarely heard a client say that something is unfair, and yet almost everything that happens to them is unfair. They have done absolutely nothing to deserve being enslaved, forced to work as farmworkers, prostitutes, cooks, nannies, maids, manicurists, etc., dealing with abuse and assault that is psychological, verbal, physical, and sexual, isolated from anyone who might care about them or help them, unable to exercise that most of basic of human rights: their free will.
It is not fair that they were subjected to this atrocious cruelty. It is not fair that many of them were born in countries ravaged by war and poverty. It is not fair that in the forgotten corners of the world people sleep on dirt floors listening to screams and gunshots while others are lulled to sleep on feather beds to the sounds of soft music playing through their iPods. It is not fair that in Buffalo just a few blocks away from a five-star restaurant with valet parking, white tablecloths, and hundred-dollar bottles of wine there are children on the streets who see no future for themselves, children with failing schools and empty stomachs and missing parents. It is not fair that some who are innocent cannot get resources to defend themselves and so end up in a jail cell unable to determine the course of their own lives, while others with power and money can summon up all the forces of the world to ensure they keep that wealth and freedom regardless of their behavior.
Totally unfair “gotcha” hatchet-job journalism. The kid is 16. He doesn’t know anything. And how is this relevant to him being a pop star? In any event, the dude is entitled to whatever tiny opinion he has. Boo!
“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”—
- Sir Winston Churchill
Armies dissolving parliaments makes me nervous too. Right, I know this did not go well in Iran. But democracy is messy. Forming a democracy is even messier. It’s just infinitely better than the alternative.