I wonder what your basis for comparison is

Have you ever watched Jim Henson’s The Labyrinth before? It’s the one starring David Bowie wearing pants that are distractingly too tight. And white. Ehem. Anyway…throughout the movie, a very young, very whiny Jennifer Connelly repeats the phrase, “It’s not fair!” Towards the end of the movie, David Bowie, the goblin king Jareth, retorts, “You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.”

We are often admonished not to compare ourselves to other people. We’re all on our own journey, etc etc. But sometimes I think comparisons can be helpful and even healthy, at least in terms of keeping things in perspective. You might not feel it’s fair that you have a job that you don’t like, but then there are folks who would gladly do any job just to get some security for their families. In turn, there are people who look at what those people have and they might think, “It’s not fair I live in a place where I’m not allowed to work.” Someone who is facing a terrible illness may look at all of you and say, “Gee, at least you all have your health.”

Everything is relative.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t feel mad or sad on occasion. Sometimes things happen that really do seem unfair. Whether they are fair or unfair from the perspective of other people hardly matters. And anyway, we have only the cards we’re dealt. We can’t worry about every other person on the planet every day. I get that.

However, I would posit that some of us, like Sarah from The Labyrinth, call “unfair” more often than perhaps we should. If you hear those words coming out of your mouth or coming into your head on a regular basis, infuse a little Jareth into your sub-conscience. Er, in a healthy way, of course. Ask yourself what your basis for comparison is. Is your situation unfair compared to someone you don’t really know? Well, you might not know the whole story there. Is your story unfair compared to that person you just passed on the street? Maybe not.

Truthfully, I don’t really believe in “fair” and “unfair” unless a person acts as the murderer did in Colorado. When your life is impacted by the random and cruel behavior of others, that’s not fair. But generally speaking, fair and unfair is about perspective. I think “fair” comes form a feeling of entitlement. Sarah felt entitled to make it through the labyrinth quickly and easily and when obstacles stood in her way, she cried foul. When we don’t get what we want, we similarly pout. That doesn’t really do much though. Whether it’s fair or not, it is what it is. Giving it a name will not change it. A rose by any other name…

So don’t worry about fair or unfair. Worry about what you can do to improve things you don’t like. Work hard. I think that’s fair. Don’t you?

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvrilyn/2559737916/ via Creative Commons

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