I gotta say, if I could eliminate three phrases from the English language, It's not fair would be one of them. (Can you guess the other two?)
After a while of ignoring my son I held up my hand to stop the grumbling, and laid out a few basic categories for him to ponder. The way I see it, there are three types of unfair:
- Unfair things that need action. It's not fair that we get to eat every day, and others don't. Nor is it fair that we have decent schools, yet kids in poor neighborhoods get a lousy education. It's definitely unfair when someone hurts others and it goes uncorrected or unpunished. We need to do something about all these things.
- Unfair things that require a deep breath and a shrug. No, it's not fair the ref didn't see that hand ball, or that you didn't get a second popsicle and your sister did. Awful as that may be, your life won't be ruined because of these injustices (unless you choose to hang on to your anger). Besides, maybe in the next game the ref will miss your hand ball. And even if it doesn't all even out in the long run, if I'm still three popsicles behind when I'm 75, I still have a lot to be thankful for.
- Unfair things that aren't actually unfair. It's frustrating that your team's best player didn't show up. It's disappointing that your friend's mom forgot about today's play date today. It's aggravating that you left your water bottle on the counter and now you're thirsty. But there's no injustice in any of these things, and there are better words than unfair to describe them.
- Is it actually unfair, or are you feeling disappointed?
- Is this something we should let pass, or something that requires action?
- What kind of action shall we take?
- Who should take the action?