The Fairness Mentality
Anyone who has kids knows very well the phrase "not fair”. Give one child a piece of candy, and all feel that they too deserve a piece. A child left out will stomp and explode admonitions for justice and fairness.
The roots of our concept of fairness are probably rooted in our genetics; all animals want a piece of the pie. In the wild, animals see that getting their piece is normal. But there is a major difference between us and animals—they understand very well that you have to fight for what you want. Thus males maul each other for females; cubs maim each other for milk.
As humanity has transformed from primitive (mammalian) to democratically cultural, there has been a social removal from the animalistic view on getting what you want. While we still have maxims that remind us of ancient fairness (Good things are hard to get. You get what you work for. God helps those who help themselves.), there is a change in our overall outlook—society and governments have increasingly built up systems to make fairness more systemized and less violent.
In the 19th Century and the early 20th Century, Socialism and Communism were a culmination in the walk towards social justice. Or, more correctly, they were culminations in a line of thought that was too narrow-minded—in the same way that a child’s concept of fairness is not always very sophisticated. The United States resisted a lot of the Leftist movements of those eras, but today we can feel the mark of that movement with our welfare system.
The problem of Socialism is that it places humans in an idyllic perspective and glosses over the selfish nature of all creatures—we will, as a species, take what we can get for as little as we can give. There are always going to be exceptions, but those exceptions are rare and exceptional. It doesn’t matter who you are, when you were born, or to what social and economic class you were born—those who can get a free ride will do just that—and return nothing valuable to the system that provides that free ride. Tyrant kings living in debauchery and crack-addicts who make sick babies while on welfare are similar creatures.
The concept of fairness is always skewed in the direction of the person (or social group) contemplating it. And since we are, at our core, insatiable, we will always feel that the world is unfair. We want more! It’s a feeling that is ingrained into our essence—and it helps those of us who happen to be innovative to create new outlets for humanity; but it is also a feeling that leads to strife based on unfounded emotional distress.
Our best tool is simply educating ourselves about this drive to get what we want; understand that we all have these feelings. As much as possible, try to temper our selfish drives with humility—we are all unique and individuals, true… but we are each just one of billions of humans all on a rather small planet off in the corner of a galaxy composed of millions of other solar systems. We all deserve a chance to make the best of our lives, to get rewards for our efforts—but nobody owes us anything. We’re lucky just to be alive and have our share of oxygen, food, friendship, life and potential. Everything else is extra and unnecessary.