“Unfair” is a Japanese television drama where one of the catch-copies is “UNFAIR koto nante nani mo nai”, or roughly “There is no such thing as Unfair”. Besides being a clever and catchy phrase, there is more we can take from “Unfair” (it’s also a fun thriller drama!).
The world operates in certain ways, which we may understand as physics or laws or black-box as “magic”. Whether we actually understand how the world operates is a separate issue. If we think the world will behave one way, but the world actually behaves a different way, we can see this as our “map not reflecting the territory”, and we should update our maps accordingly.
We humans are also a part of physics, a part of this world, and to that extension we also can cause things to happen. Often, people point at situations and say, “well that’s unfair for that to happen”, thinking someone shouldn’t be Winning or shouldn’t be Losing. What really is happening, is that the conditions for that event to occur, for that “unfairness” to occur, was caused by something, which was caused by something else, which ultimately may lead to involvement of us humans.
We can shape what happens (most of the time, but more often than we usually recognize). If I say I will walk off the cliff and fly in the sky, well, physics will think otherwise (assuming gravity of our Earth 2016). Is this also “unfair”?
I think a better concept of “fairness” would have to stick to situations we can affect. If I were walking off the cliff with a jetpack equipped, knowing that I tested this jetpack a few hours ago and was able to fly, well I have a clearer idea of what will happen as I walk off that cliff and activate my jetpack.
Now if someone had come in to tamper with the jetpack since I last tested it, without my knowledge, then we might call this situation “unfair” (or criminal). But really, what extra information does saying “unfair” add?
Stuff happens. Sometimes, that stuff is not what we humans want to happen. When we say things are “unfair”, do we really just mean that we should improve things so they happen more like what we would want to happen? Or when we say “unfair”, are we actually meaning “well I should Win more than you because that’s what I want”?
If we taboo the word “Unfair”, what is it we are referring to? Really, we should think less of “fairness”, and more just of “What Is”. Are we unhappy with “What Is”? Then let’s improve it, where we can, in ways we can control. Let’s focus on what we can improve, not just whine about the world not working how we would like it to.
There is no such thing as Unfair. There just Is. We should either change our expectations, or improve the situation so that “What Is” is more like “What We Want”.