Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A little less abstract...

Why do I care about fairness? I'll give you two examples. The first is a good friend of mine, whom I have know for almost exactly half my life at this point. She is a really well-intentioned person, with a strong sense of fairness. I have seen her, over and over again, get screwed by people who also have a strong sense of fairness - they use her sense of fairness against her, to get what is fair from her rather than doing what is right under the circumstances. As a result of this, she's in a very bad situation right one, one about which I feel helpless to do anything. What was fair in this case? Her former sweetie decided it was fair to take half of everything she had when he left. Was it right? It doesn't look that way to me, but who am I to judge?

Another example of fairness in action. The way that Native Americans have been treated is incredibly unfair. At every turn, the U.S. government has broken its agreements with various Native American people. So I was reading Will Shetterly's blog and somehow wandered from there to an interview with a Native American activist carrying a gun. This activist was saying in his interview that simply by being a citizen of the United States, and by not actively resisting what the U.S. government is doing to other peoples with as much force as is required to stop them, I am as guilty of bringing harm to those peoples as if I was personally putting them to the gun.

If you believe in fairness, both the activist of whom I speak, and the ex-boyfriend of whom I speak are in the right. What the U.S. did to the Native Americans was unfair. What we are doing now in various parts of the world is unfair. So if fairness is a real thing, I should stop typing right now, go find an AK-47, and try to create a fair world. You see the problem with this idea of fairness? Any fool can see that getting an AK-47 and using it isn't going to create a fair world. But because we enshrine this idea of fairness, angry young men with AK-47s go out and try to create fairness with depressing regularity.

The result is a lot of dead people, and even less fairness than would otherwise have been present, because now we are bearing the cost of dealing with the damage the angry young men do, and the damage the people they are trying to force to behave differently (usually governments) do in resisting them.


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