Like the British, who are, in general, far less squeamish about curse words than we Americans, I find the “f-word” to be extremely effective in many situations and as many different parts-of-speech. Despite owning a rather extensive vocabulary, in the appropriate context, I can sling it with the best of them. This post, however, is about a far more pernicious and overused four-letter “F-word”: Fair.
When my boys were children, had I caught them using either, I would have been much more disappointed in their use of the latter rather than the former “F-word,” especially if they muttered the most useless sentence ever given voice: “That’s not fair!” This declaration is almost always declaimed in the whiniest and most annoying of tones. To make such a proclamation as a child, however, is both understandable and forgivable, but not so much when uttered by a so-called adult. Should any of my high school-aged students speak it to me, my response is always the same: “There are only two sorts of people who expect life to be fair: children and fools. Which one are you?”
To be a functional adult, much less a successful one, it is necessary to accept that life will not always be fair. When life deals you cards from the bottom of the deck, the only mature response is to “deal” with it yourself. Go around, under, or over life’s unfairness to reach your desired outcome, but don’t waste your or anyone else’s time and energy with mewling over your victimhood. Excuses are for losers, and protracted self-pity is the most worthless and self-paralyzing of emotions. From peons, who lose the birth lottery, to presidents, who lose an election, we are all regularly confronted with realities we wish were different. Such unwanted realities, however, are not necessarily and typically are not unfair. They simply are.
According to Tim and Brian Kight, the father and son duo responsible for the R-Factor philosophy employed by Urban Meyer when he served as the highly-successful coach of the Ohio State Buckeye football team, as individuals we do not always control the Events, fair or unfair, that impose themselves upon our lives. What we do control, however, is our Response to those events, which, in turn, will go a long way to determining the final Outcome. Their equation is E + R = O. Nowhere in that equation is there an “F” for fairness or “-F” for the lack thereof.
Unless your using “fair” in a poetic sense as in Shakespeare’s Romeo’s impatient plea for the “fair sun” to rise “and kill the envious moon,” or as in Hamlet’s bawdy implied allusion to the other “F-Word” when he says to his erstwhile girlfriend, Ophelia, “That’s a fair thought to lie between a maid’s legs,” I’d recommend going lightly with either of the “F-words.”
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