Fairness and Unfairness

Is this world fair? No. Some people are born into great wealth, while others are born into poverty. Is this world then unfair? Also no. Everyone is born with two eyes, two ears, two hands, a mouth, a head, and a mind. Since everyone is similar, then how can we say that the world is unfair?

Fairness or unfairness in this world regarding our future success, failure, fortune, or misfortune is decided by our karma, according to which we reap what we have sown. If we have made enough deposits in our accounts during previous lives, we are able to enjoy the benefits of them in this one. However, if we were heavily in debt in our previous lives, our present lives will be less pleasant and wealth will not come our way.

In this world, it is difficult to maintain the status quo, for no one is exempt from change and the Law of Cause and Effect. Though everyone may be equal, in that they are human beings, everyone is subject to changes of fortune. A rich person can lose his or her wealth, while a poor person has the possibility of making millions. Karma dictates that everyone’s fate is determined fairly in accordance with one’s causes and conditions.

Once upon a time, an emperor disguised himself and made a trip to observe his empire. As he made his way around the country, no one noticed him. One day, a farmer offered him a cup of tea. The emperor was so moved by the farmer’s warmheartedness that when he returned to the palace, he sent for the farmer and made him a high official of the imperial court. When a down-and-out scholar heard of the farmer’s appointment, he was furious at the emperor’s decision and inscribed a very sarcastic poem on the wall of a local temple: “Ten years of hardship has failed to match a cup of tea.” When the emperor saw the poem on his next outing, he quietly added the following words: “Although he is not as bright as you, his fate is better than yours.”

During the early stages of the revolution against the corrupt Qing Dynasty rulers, Dr. Sun Yat-sen demanded that the world treat the Chinese people with fairness and dignity. Is it really possible to have international justice and equality when only the super-powers of the world are represented? Although everyone is equal in the eyes of the world, the judicial process can be discriminatory and prejudicial. For example, some people state that the scales of justice are often tipped in favor of the rich and powerful. Minority groups and ordinary citizens are left defenseless in the court of law.

It is very difficult to achieve fairness and equality in this imperfect world. We all wish for others to treat us fairly, but there are many examples of unfairness. For example, there are people who honor and respect their parents, but are disliked by their mothers or fathers. In Chinese history, there are many figures who were deeply loyal to their country, but were framed as traitors by their jealous enemies.

In this finite and impermanent world of ours, many causes of inequality that stem from having or not having money, power, knowledge, and/or beauty. However, when we look beneath the surface, we will understand that whatever we have or do not have is the result of our own actions. It is karma that helps to determine one’s fate. Therefore, we have no one to blame for our misfortunes. The following verse can serve as a reference:

A good mind and good fortune will lead to a lifetime of prosperity.

A malicious mind and good fortune will turn blessings into misfortune.

A good mind and bad fortune will turn misfortunes into blessings.

A malicious mind and bad fortune will bring disaster and poverty.

A good mind can change one’s fortune through benevolence.

A good mind can bring about good fortune, for the self is the only cause of good or bad luck.

To believe in fortune and ignore the cultivation of one’s mind

Is to be deceived by illusions.

To cultivate one’s mind and follow the Truth

Is to guarantee protection by Heaven and Earth.