fair

Fair means — hm. “Fair” is tricky.

Strictly speaking, nothing is fair. Some people get a lot of advantages — money, beauty, talent, education, powerful friends and family, that kind of thing — and other people get to live in a one-room shanty with five children in the middle of a war zone. Some people who get the advantages would have been fine without them, and other people’s lives will be an endless parade of bullshit no matter how many advantages they get.

So when we say something is “fair” or “not fair,” this deeply unfair place we live in is our starting point, which is why fairness is often completely subjective. In fact, if you pay attention, I think you’ll notice that “fair” usually means “whatever sounds good to the person speaking.”

This doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what’s fair and what isn’t — we can all agree that it’s fair to give every member of a debate equal speaking time or that it isn’t fair to lock someone up for a crime they didn’t commit. It just means keep an eye on people who can’t wait to tell you how fair or unfair something is.