“It’s not fair!” The shrill voice of a young girl from across the café. “They don’t do hot chocolate with marshmallows.”
After a little smile at this innocent comment from a seven year old, I thought about the big bad grown up world. And there I hear that same cry every day – “it’s not fair” they say. “I have a right”, they say as if the conjuring of rights and of fairness changes anything about the fact that someone else has something you don’t.
There are times when the conduct of democratic politics becomes a toddler-esque bidding war over supposed “rights” and alleged “unfairness”. We are getting the revolution of the five year old – lots of stamping of feet, waving or arms and appeals to fairness. And – if that doesn’t work screaming and shouting, yelling and throwing things about.
One of the things I learned when I was five – and that I was reminded of every day henceforth – is that nothing’s fair and nothing’s right. We get dealt a hand in life and we make the most of it – there are some people who started with nothing who end up with plenty and a few others blessed with plenty who end up down there in the gutter. And it’s not fair.
So why is it that politicians from every direction seem to think that invoking “fairness” or speaking of “rights” is good thing? How did we get to the place where we could set out the appeal to voters as toddlers rather than voters as grown ups who know that we can’t have what we want?
As I heard that little girl’s voice, my thought was that – however her mum responded (and she didn’t say “life’s not fair” like she should have done) – we grow up to believe that we can appeal to Government to make things “fair”. And the politicians promise to make it all OK – to give us our “rights”, to make things “fair”, all the while knowing – as anyone who thinks about it for a second knows – that you can’t make it fair, you have no rights granted by government.
But we still vote for marshmallows don’t we.