Friday, April 14, 2006

#139: Is Life Fair or Cruel?

Although the answer to the above question is complex and possibly ambiguous depending on one’s station in life, I will attempt to make some sense out of it and even give it a spiritual connotation. The dictionary defines “fair” as “according to the rules.” Are there any indications that life is fair or that life should be lived in a fair way? The answer to that question is in an upcoming section.

This subject makes me angry when I see or hear of human injustices and other inequalities. For example, is it fair for people to be born in a third-world country where there is hunger, starvation, drought, and lack of basic necessities, along with little or no education? No. For millions of misfortunate people born in that situation, the answer is that life for them is not fair no matter how one looks at it.

The question now arises whether it is fair for people in a developed country like the USA to have more than they need. What right do some of us have with an abundance of just about everything? That is an incriminating question. Could we live in a free country like America where everything above a certain amount earned would go to those without? Would the wealthy go for it? I doubt it. Would anyone go for it? Possibly just a few. The reason being: a silent cliché most of us live by is this: “I love me; who do you love?” Therefore, since there are no required rules to enforce the above mandate, that rationale will never fly.

We have come to the conclusion that life is not fair, at least in terms of the inequality of resources. Is life fair or cruel in other aspects of life? As an example, many people are born with great memories, to the point where they can breeze through school and college, while others are born with brains that have a difficult time remembering anything of academic value. They struggle through school, and many times drop out in the last few years. One group may end up making big bucks the rest of their lives, while the others may have to work their buns off just to get by. Is it fair? Absolutely not.

There is a plus when it comes to those who do physical work at a much lower-paying wage than those who receive a college education. Although I believe humans are spiritual beings with physical bodies and not vice versa, the body needs a healthy program of moderate to heavy exercise. The uneducated most likely get their needed exercise on the job. Therefore, from a physical standpoint, their type of work is fair to them, while those who work at sedentary jobs are denied that benefit and pay for it with weight gain and other degenerative diseases and sicknesses, especially in old age. Remember this: When God created us through His evolution process–not Darwin’s–humans were meant to be physical and not sedentary. As technology in the world increases, sedentary employment also increases. That is one of the enigmatic curses of our modern culture. It is not fair to sacrifice health for a higher-paying job. Also, it is not fair to sacrifice a higher-paying job for health. You can’t have your Kay and Edith too. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. The only winner, it seems, is one who has a high-paying job doing physical work.

Many times, the cruelest and most unfair aspect of life is genetics. Is it fair that some people are born beautiful/handsome, tall, gifted, intelligent, and with other desirable traits, while others are born homely, dull, short, and mentally hindered, along with other undesirable handicaps? No, it doesn’t seem fair, but there may be a spiritual twist to having these unfair traits, which will be mentioned later. When some are born blind, crippled, poor, lame, etc., is it fair? It doesn’t seem that way. Although the following has nothing to do with genetics, when some are maimed by accidents, injured in war, or are victims of just bad luck, is it fair?

In countries like America that are technologically developed, is it fair that some are born with a gold spoon in their mouths while others are born in extreme poverty? One group doesn’t have to do a lick of physical work all their lives, while the others have to scrimp and scrape around for the basic necessities, if even that. The more we look at life in its various forms, the more we see that life is extremely cruel and unfair. Why is that? Some would say, “That’s life.” That seems like the only answer.

What about billions of people who were/are raised in religions which have little or nothing to do with an undivided love for God and a selfless love for their fellow man/woman in need, which includes their enemies? When that type of love is not the central theme in any religion, that religion is false, and a pleasant afterlife is not in store for them. Is that fair of God to allow such a gigantic, unfair situation? As we humans see it, many can’t even start to answer that question.

No doubt there are other ways in which life is unjust, although I believe I covered the most extreme ones. Now the question comes up, How does God feel about all these unjust situations? The only possible answer could be this: When mining for diamonds, how many tons of inert byproducts (stones, etc.) must be discarded just to find several small diamonds? Is it worth all that effort? Certainly. The same is true about humanity. In order to get just a few people who live and believe as God demands–not suggests—billions upon billions will have to be discarded. That may not seem fair in human eyes, but it is the only way in God’s sight.

If God were to interfere in worldly affairs to alleviate that injustice–not that He can’t–He would most likely have to tamper with our free will by coercion. Then, that would create a completely new relationship between God and humans. Then the new saying would come into existence: “God MADE me do it.” He could never do that and still be a God of love. You can’t force someone to love you. Remember, the only ones God desires to be with Him are those who value a relationship with Him of more value than physical life itself.

Let’s examine what the New Testament says about the unfair situation of life. Matthew 11:28. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Did you notice that Jesus did not say, “Come to me, all you who live a comfortable life or are wealthy”? To that group, this life was more than fair. In this life, it is unfair and cruel to those who are weary and burdened. But, the weary and burdened who believe and live as God commands are the prime candidates Jesus desires to reward with eternal life, for how unfair life was to them in this world.

Also in Luke Chapter 14 is a great illustration of how the unfair lives some had to endure will be reversed. A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. He told his servant to tell those who had been invited to come, for everything was now ready. They all made excuses and did not come. The master got angry and ordered his servant to go into the streets and alleys to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame. When that was done, there still was room so he sent his servant to the roads and country lanes where low-class people lived and worked, and made them come in so that his house may be full.

That banquet illustrates the great joy there will be for those who have been accepted to the spiritual feast at the end of time. Again, those whose lives seemed unfair may ended up the winners. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone who is weary and burdened will go to heaven. The only thing is, they have a better chance of being aware of a need for something better than this life. That is the main reason that not one New Testament verse includes the elite, the wealthy, or the comfortable as candidates for eternal life. They enjoyed their more-than-fair lives on earth, while looking down on all those whom life treated unfairly. Luke 16:25. “. . . Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” Luke 12:21. “This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” This verse is the punch line of a man who produced a good crop and built bigger barns to store his crops, and then died. To do right by God, he should have shared his abundance with the less fortunate.

In conclusion, 1) to those who have it made (an easy life)—either agnostics or counterfeit Christians who were not obedient to the Gospel message—life is more than fair in this life but will be cruel in hell; 2) for those who never had a chance to hear about the saving power of Jesus Christ in third-world countries, life is unfair in this life and unfair in the hereafter; 3) for poor, run-of-the-mill, unbelieving panhandlers, etc. that don’t take advantage of all that God offers, life is not fair in this life and even crueler in hell; 4) and still, for genuine Christians, life is unfair in this life, but glorious in the life to come. Therefore, is life fair? Yes and no.

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