Who am I?
Where am I going?
Am I getting it right?
Why can’t I stop?
Why is it all so unfair?
Are we nearly there yet?

I guess it’s safe to assume I’m not the only one who’s asking questions.  Though sometimes I feel like we rush into the answers, and so the questions themselves don’t get the time.  They don’t get turned over and over, examined, probed and prodded.  They don’t get investigated, they aren’t allowed to hang in the air, because the air is being filled with the answers before the question’s even finished.

And the question that just isn’t getting itself out of my head at the moment is that fifth one in the list.  That list of questions you just sailed through up there at the start of this post.

Why is it all so unfair?

I’m letting water out of the bath and I’m thinking about the water my kids have just washed in.  I’m wondering how many people that much water could have kept alive just for another day.  Because there’ll be another bath tomorrow.

I’m splitting wood for the fire.  And as I toss it into the wheelbarrow, I find myself thinking that that wood, which makes a pretty fire in our centrally-heated house, could perhaps keep someone warm for just another day.  Maybe keep them alive one more cold night.  And there’s always plenty of wood to split around here.  Plenty for tomorrow.  And the next day.

And then I take the wheelbarrow of wood to the wood store.  And on the way through the orchard, I can’t help treading on the windfall apples.  We’ve turned hundreds into crumbles, and had hundreds pressed to make juice, but we simply can’t use them all.  And maybe you can figure out what I’m thinking as I tread on those apples.

It’s all so unfair.

It makes me ache for justice.  But it feels like I’m a bit stuck.  It’s not like I can box up some apples and send them to a starving family.  And I don’t think anyone’s going to want my boys’ bathwater…

Why is it all so unfair?

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15 Responses to Questions.

  1. Could it be that our thoughts and ideas of ‘fairness’ are tangled up in what we believe that we are ‘owed’? When bad things happen to good people we ask why God would allow this to happen, as somehow God owes us health/wealth/security? Whilst I believe that God sees and has his heart broken for those without water, without heating, without shelter, I’m not sure that God’s view of fairness is the same as our tainted earthy view of what is owed to us. ‘The last shall be first and the first shall be last’ we can’t understand why it happens, and I struggle with it a lot too. I still don’t get Job at all- Is it fair that all those things happen to Job with God’s blessing? All we can do is get on our knees and interceed.

    • Dorothy says:

      we can do more than get on our knees and intercede.

      We can give financially to aid agencies, in particular those such as that work to change social and economic structures.
      We can become politically active, campaigning locally, nationaly and internationally on various issues.
      We can raise awareness via social media, and be prepared to enter into respectful debate with others who see nothing wrong with the “I’m all right, Jack” attitude of our society.
      We can choose to vote for the party which offers the greatest good to the greatest number rather than the onewhich will leave us personally better off at the expense of others.

      And that’s just a start.

      • nickparish says:

        Thanks for that link – looks interesting, and I may try to browse at some point when the boys don’t have a day off school!
        As for the voting thing, that’s a tough one, and one I’m increasingly aware of as I delve into that kind of stuff. Because I didn’t vote for the Green Party last time (which looked ideal in many ways) because of their stance on Euthanasia – a straightforward life-and-death issue. But every party has things that I don’t agree with, and it’s so difficult to prioritise the ‘right’ ones…

    • nickparish says:

      Yes and no…
      I think it’s easy to think, “I work hard, therefore I deserve x,y or z”, despite the fact that others who work equally hard live on a rubbish dump and won’t get a meal today. And that’s not fair. But I’m thinking more of the fairness that should be a part of God’s creation. The time we’re in between the fall (the start of unfairness) and the restoration of God’s Kingdom (the end of unfairness) is a time where people don’t get to enjoy God’s creation as it was intended. And that’s not fair, in that it’s not how it was supposed to be. So I guess it’s not fair compared with what we were originally offered, rather than not fair compared with what we ‘deserve’…

      • Dorothy says:

        I think my point was that to a very great extent _we_ – as in _all_ people – create and perpetuate the inequalities.
        We’ve been given freedom – and it was an abuse of that freedom that set in motion the whole sorry mess.

      • Dorothy says:

        and re the voting issue – oh, that’s a tough one!
        I have Catholic contacts in the States who agonised at length about which way to vote. In so many ways, Clinton’s social justice programme chimed with what they understand as the gospel imperative to feed, clothe, heal, liberate Christ by feeding, clothing, healing, liberating the needy in our midst.
        In the end they reluctantly voted for the openly mysogynist, racist, self-confessed sexually abusive known liar on the one-issue stance that he professes to be anti-abortion.
        Problem is, traditional Christianity as promulgated by the institutional church encourages black-and-white, right-or-wrong, us-and-them thinking whereas the actual teachings of Jesus himself allow for an immense amount of grey, with the bottom line being that all should be done in love.
        How we square the political circle (circus!) is ultimately only a decision we can each make on our knees before the Christ we nail to the cross.

  2. Dorothy says:

    re unfair distribution of food/water/resources – it’s because corporately we lack the political and personal will to make radical changes in our social and commercial structures.
    God gives us free will.
    We can choose to respond in many ways.
    There is always something we can do.
    Some families, for example, agree that instead of buying gifts for adults for birthdays an Christmas, they will give Alternative Gifts.
    The deeper question, for me, is “how do I live with my genuine powerlessness?”

    • nickparish says:

      Thanks for posing another question, and it’s certainly an intriguing one. I suppose it’s not complete powerlessness, given your response to Katie, above, but it’s certainly a relative powerlessness, and lacking power to do everything we would want to do.
      I guess I’m probably guilty of sometimes thinking ‘if I can’t do everything, then why do anything?’. Which comes back to the classic starfish story…
      I was watching an episode of ‘Missing’ yesterday, and one of the characters was challenging another by pointing out that their choice was between doing something, and doing nothing. And I guess sometimes we end up doing nothing because we can’t do everything, rather that doing something because it’s better than doing nothing.
      This comment should have a #rambling warning attached, sorry!

      • Dorothy says:

        nothing wrong with a bit of rambling – aka thinking aloud as you work something through! 🙂

        what starfish story? never come across it.

      • nickparish says:

        Starfish story (I’m sure it’ll ring a bell…)
        A man was walking on a long beach, and saw a figure ahead of him. The figure kept bending down as if picking something up, and then apparently throwing it into the sea. This repeated move of stopping, bending and throwing, meant that the figure ahead was going slowly, and after a while, the man caught up. He discovered it was a boy. The boy was bending down, picking up starfish, and throwing them into the waves. The man asked the boy, ‘what are you doing?’ The boy replied, ‘the starfish won’t survive if they stay out of the water – I’m throwing them back into the sea to save them.’ To which the man responded, ‘But the beach is so long, there must be hundreds of starfish – you’ll never save them all. What difference can you possibly make?’ The boy bent down, picked up another starfish, looked at the man and said, ‘it makes a difference to this one’, and threw it into the sea.

  3. frmary66 says:

    When we lived in Pakistan, in the capital, we lived with the vast, oceanic gap between poverty and riches. We were somewhere in the middle… To the embassy community, we were clearly very poor; to the “bustee” community, we were definitely very rich. (The bustees are large settlements of village-style mud houses built illegally in the city, but which were generally allowed to exist [without electricity, gas or water, of course] because their occupants served the very rich.) Trying to learn to live with dignity, or even serenity, with what we had and didn’t have was a constant challenge. A bustee child may have a toy; Nick and Tim seemed to have hundreds. A bustee family bought (or, more likely, made) new outfits for Easter, Christmas or a Muslim festival; we bought clothes when we thought we needed them and when we knew we didn’t. We served them in what ways we could (I worked in clinics for 9 years), but it was never enough to balance out the shocking inequalities. We boycotted, and boycott, companies like Nestlé, whose activities in such places literally kill babies and children. BUT IT’S NEVER EVER ENOUGH. I just have to live with the fact that I can only do what I can do; and that includes, sadly, what I have the emotional energy for, as well as the cash, the nouse, and the connections. Maranatha. Maranatha….

    • nickparish says:

      Hang on, I’ve just realised that Dorothy wrote a separate comment, rather than replying to this one (I think!). See my response to her comment if you want to see a response to yours 🙂 xx

  4. Dorothy says:

    Indeed. It’s never ever enough.
    You lived in the immediate vicinity of the dilemma we all face daily.
    It’s never ever enough.
    We pray for hte grace to be true to our principles in the teeth of immense social pressure to go with the flow, take the easy way out.

    • nickparish says:

      By the way, frmary is my Mum, just so you know 🙂
      Mum, I think the emotional energy thing is an interesting point. I suspect that, at those times when I’m lacking emotional energy, I’m more susceptible to feelings of guilt and frustration at the unfairness of it all. And yet, of course, times of low emotional energy are times when I’m less well equipped to actually deal with that same unfairness – in a sense, I have the will but not the strength to challenge it. So I need to to pray both for more compassion, so the pain stays with me longer, and at the same time more strength, so that I can respond resolutely, rather than merely feel overwhelmed.

      • frmary66 says:

        I’m wondering why Nick would want to connect himself so obviously with me….!!!!! Mind you, if you knew him as a littl’un, you might recognise half of my profile photo… the other half is his brother. Having said which – you’re right, kid! The question is, do I/you/does anyone around have the heart to pray that prayer? I cannot begin to imagine having that sort of energy. Hey – I’m retired! Can’t I put my feet up? And a little voice said to me a few weeks ago, “When did following me have anything to do with self-preservation.” I ought to write a blog.

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