Here in the UK, it's mid-week-4 of the lockdown. We're trapped in a house with a typical teeny-tiny British garden — with no real grass as there's no drainage, and no tree except the potted pine we brought from our previous flat's balcony. Apart from that little pine, no tree can be seen anywhere from our house, looking out around the new-build housing estate. It's a grim place to be locked down, especially as we're not supposed to drive to a park, and most parks, outdoor spaces, and "beauty spots" (ie any kind of nature) are off-limits anyhow. It seems unreal that even in this time of isolation, loneliness, fear, and anxiety, the very things put on this earth for our enjoyment, relaxation, and appreciation are essentially now behind bars.
It seems unfair. It IS unfair. Everything about this pandemic is unfair, down to the fact that politicians and celebrities can get tested for the virus when so many of the rest of us can't.
But I read something today and had to share it, because it challenged my thinking about fairness. Yes, we're all told that life isn't fair, buck up and deal with it like an adult. But Nancy Guthrie, in THE ONE YEAR BOOK OF HOPE, says this:
"On the surface, a perfectly fair world appeals to us. But would we really want to live in such a world? In a perfectly fair world, there is no room for grace—receiving what you don't deserve. Neither is there room for mercy—being spared from receiving the punishment you do deserve. Suffering may be underserved, but so is our redemption. A fair world might be a nice place for us to live, but it would only be as nice as we are. And we know we're really not that nice."
I don't know about you, but this simple truth never occurred to me before. We'd love for things to be fair in this pandemic — for the dangerous people making dangerous decisions to be brought to justice, for everyone to be tested equally, for everyone to be able to find the supplies they need before they need them, for businesses to be saved, for jobs to be resumed, and so on.
But, for example, how often have I been impatient, snippy, selfish? Not just in this pandemic, but in life? If we lived in a world where only fair things happened (according to our personal view of fair, of course), then there'd be no room, like Guthrie says, for others to give us grace when we act poorly. For people to donate their time and resources to help others, regardless of who those others are, or whether they've been "good enough" to deserve it?
And who says what's good? It's my belief that only God defines good. Good is loving others, not based on how they treat us, but simply because. It's our purpose on this earth. To love others, in whatever way we're able to, whatever way speaks to us and makes use of our gifts and abilities.
It's given me something to chew on. We, as a species, are not inherently nice. We have to work at it. Yes, most of us may have a natural instinct that cries out at injustice, that wants to reach out to help others along, often before helping ourselves, and that's a beautiful thing. But we also have instincts to snap, to judge, to see someone walking their dog out the window and think, "That's your third bloody walk for the day! Why is that fair when I've stuck to my ONE?"
However good we can be, we are not perfect, not even close. But that's why I think we should be grateful that life on this earth is not fair. None of us would survive if it was.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well, and knowing that however you get through each day, you are doing your best. When this pandemic passes, there will be many stories to tell, and, hopefully, lessons put into action.