“Life isn’t fair” bemoaned a friend as they took a breath and continued; “Life should be fair”. This was a moment when my conservation of speech and ideas had reached its breaking point. I had to say something. My response started with the simple statement that “Life shouldn’t be far, it should be agreeable”. I won’t subject you to the long form of my response, but I wanted to touch on this idea we have about “fair” versus “agreeable” (or “agreement” or “acceptance” if you’re so inclined).
The essence of this idea is what’s fair verses what’s agreeable? Fair can defined as “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice”, whereas agreeable is defined as simply something that is “acceptable”. I would want to say more in life should be acceptable, not simply lacking in stuff we dislike.
Over the years, I’ve come back to this idea in my dealings with others, customers and even with internal struggles. I often wonder what it is that makes us long for something so unattainable as fairness, when we can easily work to give each other the gift of agreement. You see, the very ideas of fairness for one person may mean completely different things for another. You may feel that a criminal’s sentence is fair at 10 years, but the victims of his injustice may wish to see him locked up for 20. Very little of life is set out to be fair. But yet, when we have agreed on something, it is done. There are no subjective interpretations of an agreement – it’s often written in contract form. We may not like everything about what has been decided, but the nature of the agreement means we accept it and move forward.
I’ve found that one of the worst qualities a person can have is to fight so hard and long, only to lose sight of what the fight was for in the first place. Others take an overly pedantic approach to communicating with others when they simply could understand the central idea being expressed and carry on with that line of reasoning. I see this when talking in my language a person who’s English is poor. If I spent all my time correcting the person (expecting to be spared the injustice of poor English), no one would understand a thing. Why not simply accept this problem and work hard to find understanding and help the person feel comfortable while making some progress?
That’s the things about agreements, they’re in every facet of our lives. Often, we’re doing it and don’t realize it. The fact that we give each other paper (now a plastic polymer) in exchange for goods and services is based on a simple agreement that money has a set upon value. Imagine how our lives would be if few actually agreed that a ten dollar bill held the value it does today? If we had to fight to determine what money was worth, when would we get around to actually buying something? It seems, more and more, people are simply in it for the fight; where backing down or agreeing to an idea is tantamount to failure.
Agreeing to something doesn’t always mean that you’re a wuss. In fact, I think the more strongly opinionated we wish to become, we need to know just when to lay down that intense opinion. “Agree to Disagree”, You’ve heard that before right? I feel that it’s a great place to be if two people are able to strongly state their cases, attempt to motivate and persuade and, if that doesn’t happen, respectfully step out of the argument knowing you’ve done what you could to make a point. I’ve always felt, it takes more courage to walk away from a fight than it does to escalate indefinitely.
Another interesting idea a friend mentioned years ago, was about the very nature of love itself. I don’t profess to understand a lick of what love is, but my dear friend was confident in saying that love is simply acceptance. Think about that. It makes more sense as you go over in in your mind. What is it that makes couples that truly last stay in a loving relationship so long? Is it because they’ve both been fair with each other? Not likely. What seems more likely to me is they simply accept each other for who they are. Purely. Unconditionally.
So, when someone comes up to you and says that “the world needs more love“, perhaps you might compliment them on a great idea, but maybe start with “more agreement and acceptance“.