I was having lunch with a lovely individual a while back and we eventually ended up talking about the inequality around the world and we briefly touched on the fact that one of capitalism’s many flaws is that its focus on maximizing productivity and wealth generation often leads to exploitation and a complete disregard of the people at the bottom end of the economic pyramid. And then, at some point towards the end of the conversation I uttered the following phrase:
“Yeah, well life is not fair and it’s not supposed to be.”
Being the reflective person that I am and taking into consideration the fact that this was the first conversation that I had ever had with this person, I realized that this blunt statement might have made me come across as a harsh, inconsiderate, self-centered person, which I definitely am to an extent, unashamedly – but this certainly does not make for a great first impression. Yet even after further reflection on my statement, I still firmly believed that the validity of my somewhat harsh perspective held true.
The objective truth – we are just animals living on a floating rock
When you adopt the view that we as humans beings, or more technically, Homo Sapiens, are just one particular species of the Homo genus that currently co-exist with a multitude of other species of animals, vegetation and organisms of all shapes and forms, living on a giant rotating rock, orbiting an even bigger star in our solar system, located in an arbitrary galaxy that forms a relatively insignificant part of the ginormous and ever-expanding Universe, which is estimated to be about 14 billion years old. Then technically speaking, yes, life, which statistically speaking is a complete and utter miracle in itself, is not fair and the truth is that it was never meant to be fair. Nature, or more specifically, natural selection is all about survival of the fittest, not survival of the fairest, the kindest, the most democratic or the most loving, caring and just, as harsh and unfortunate as this sounds.
The subjective reality – I am a human, and I have feelings and rights
As conscious – and supposedly – self aware human beings, some of us are born into a world of poverty, famine, disease, financial exclusion and are seemingly predisposed to face limitations in many different aspects of life, while others are born into luxury, wealth, high social status and access to top quality education. Is this fair? No, it is not. Is it supposed to be fair? Well, this is the underlying belief that has formed the basis of many of the revolutions and anti-ism movements that have taken their course over our recent history and are still taking place to this very day.
Who am I and why am I asking this question?
I was born in the early 90’s in Mbabane, the capital city of Swaziland, a small landlocked monarchy in Southern Africa where the King always has the final say. I was raised in a Christian family, attended church on a weekly basis and I was taught the fundamental precepts of the Christian ideology from a very early age through a multitude of bible stories, scriptures, hymns, songs and choruses. Then, upon completing secondary school at Sisekelo, a boarding school deep within the sugar cane fields of Big Bend (Swaziland), I ventured across the border into South Africa with the intention of completing my tertiary education at The University of Cape Town, a world class academic institution located at the southern tip of a democratic country – who’s deomocracy was only two years younger than me at the time – which was still struggling to deal with the wounds and injuries received from years of economic, social, physical and psychological oppression bestowed upon the natives by the colonizers and the ruthless Apartheid regime.
Forward to a few years later, and I have since been introduced to the brilliant, insightful and extremely informative works and teachings of the likes of academics and intellectuals like Richard Dawkins, Jordan Peterson, and Sam Harris – to name a few – whos books, debates, and lectures have introduced me to entirely new concepts of morality, neuroscience, religion, and evolutionary biology.
This whirlwind of a tour over the past 26 years of my life has brought me to this current stage of my existence where I have this uncontrollable urge to ask the question of whether life is supposed to be fair?
There are a lot of movements that have happened and are still happening in the world right now which I do not want to discredit or take away from in any way, shape or form whatsoever. I just want to enquire from perhaps a more philosophical perspective on whether this world that we live in is supposed to be fair? Or are we, as the narcissistic human beings, who once literally thought that the Universe was centered around us and our petty planet, just imposing our subjective ideals on a completely objective, competitive, cut-throat environment?
All comments are welcome, because just like Sway, I ain’t got the answers.