Fairness doesn’t enter into it

Saturday we adopted three kittens from the local animal shelter. But one died overnight. The other two got an emergency vet visit.

We were worried about the other two for the next few days, but they seemed fine. Then, yesterday, another one suddenly collapsed without much warning. We rushed her to the vet, but in a few hours she was dead. The third is now at the vet, and his prospects are not good.

My wife kept saying this was not fair. I kind of understand what she means. On the other hand, I also don’t. Fairness really doesn’t enter into it. That’s just the way things are. Little kittens die suddenly, leaving us emotional wrecks. In the scale of ugliness life can deliver, losing kittens you’ve just bonded with are pretty small, really. I confess, remarking on the fairness of life doesn’t even occur to me. Fairness of human arrangements is one thing—in my cynicism, I often don’t expect fairness, but I don’t have trouble making sense of a complaint that, say, some economic policy is unfair. But life in general? I just have to cope, even if this means for few days I will go around feeling like I’m suppressing a scream every moment of the day.

And the gods don’t enter into it either. If I had a more religious temperament, perhaps I could make more sense of complaining about the unfairness of the universe. I could curse the gods. But how could that possibly help? The universe doesn’t run according to my wishes. Even if I could take seriously the minute possibility that some supernatural agent was in charge, that wouldn’t change.

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About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University


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