Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Wrestling with Fairness

So you see it all over the place these days. The stereotype of the millennial generation: they're coddled and soft and expect the world on a platter. To me it's a generation obsessed with fairness. I see it encapsulated in grumblings birthed from the broken dreams of their forebears, "these kids, they think they deserve to earn a living doing what they like, why can't they wake up and face reality?"

And it's difficult to argue with that sentiment. Surely the world in which we live is unfair. Although, for most middle-class, white Americans, they've never known an unfair world. Our schools and daycares are obsessed with it. Colleges and workplaces are becoming so obsessed... precisely because their cheap labor is demanding it.

We've created this world.

You don't want to crush that vision, though, do you? I mean, we all want a world that's fair - or at least more fair. Maybe there's a few bitter old souls who say, "it wasn't fair for me, it shouldn't be fair for you." But for most of us, we want to keep the dream alive - that's why we created the fairy tale fairness world for our kids in the first place.

The problem is, a lot of those kids grow up completely incapable of dealing with an unfair world. That's why there's so many kids living in their parents' basements and you can never get you order right at McDonald's. The high-functioning, intelligent kid who found himself behind that register after unfairly missing out on a more fulfilling, better-paying job just decided not to work at all.

Some kids don't have that luxury - which is really unfair.

One thing I realized while pondering all this, though, is that, by all rights, I should be one of those kids. I hate unfairness. I hate things being out of order (or whatever seems like order to me). I exhibit most of the signs of mild OCD on a pretty regular basis. I abhor change. I've come close to nervous breakdowns over things even I will admit are ridiculously unimportant (I just can't help it).

So why do I have an uncharacteristic acceptance of the unfairness of the world?

Don't get me wrong, I still get unreasonably upset with unfairness that seems like it's addressable. I tend to fixate on those unfairnesses that seem to have solutions. I don't, however, let the overall unfairness of the world rub off on me. I expect it.

This sounds silly, but my conclusion as to why I've somehow found sanity (in one small area) against all odds, is due to a happenstance. At some point, in my early teens, I fell under the influence of one Vince McMahon.

Yeah, he's the head of the WWE (formerly WWF, until the World Wildlife Foundation got brand-savvy). Again, I know it comes off as trivial, but I think there's some real merit here. For one thing, pro wrestling will disabuse you of your innate sense of fairness in two matches or less.  (Oh, you didn't think the title, or that picture, were metaphorical did you?)

Whether it's a concussed referee or a hidden metal folding chair, at some point in every wrestling match, someone is going to cheat. Sometimes the cheaters get what's coming to them, but more often than not, the cheaters get away with it.

Wrestling is entertainment. It's athletic and competitive, but it's more akin to the Real Housewives than it is to the NFL. And like most forms of entertainment, it's a reflection of the world. (If you think otherwise, ask all the bank executives who went to jail over their company's criminal behavior of the past five years... of wait, you can't ask them, because there aren't any.)

Yes, like my mother always said, if pro wrestling is the only narrative by which you're shaped, your morals will be pretty sad. This particular reflection of the world is not really something to be proud of. But I'm not sure it's all bad. In small doses. With proper supervision. And plenty of alternatives.

For me, at least, it was a helpful counterbalance to the notion that everything should always be fair. There's plenty of critique over our societal understanding of "fairness" anyway, but that's a topic for another day.

You don't have to sit your kids in front of Monday Night RAW (which would actually be hard for us, since we don't have cable), but perhaps consider allowing them to experience the utter lack of fairness present in the world before it really matters in life.

We don't want to crush the optimism of youth or the dream of a better world - that is the stuff of faith and vitally important. At the same time, we want the unfairness of the world to be a speed bump and not a road block (or a suplex or an armbar or a powerbomb off the top rope).

Do you smell what I'm cookin?

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