Life’s not fair and then you die.

Image thanks to Smart College Visit

This unhelpful comment rings in my ears whenever I hear someone say ‘that’s not fair’. It shouldn’t but it does. 

Yes, life is unfair but why do we accept that this is so? Should we not be striving for greater fairness?

I have been thinking a lot about this recently. These are difficult times. The COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent economic crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests have all brought it home to me that social difficulties don’t affect all of us equally. If you are poor, disenfranchised or coloured, statistically you are going to be worse hit. 

I doubt this will be a surprise to many yet somehow the tables are turned and it becomes the fault of the poor, disenfranchised or coloured that they are in such a position. Somehow they have earned their fate. But this is not so.

Your chances in life are like a ladder with rungs going from the bottom to the top. Luck determines where you start on the ladder and you can go up or down a few rungs. If your parents are well off you start higher up the ladder than if they were poor. You have a distinct head start in life over those below you. The ladder takes into account all social comparators and most of us will end up more or less where we started.

This week we learned that all the pupils at Eton College were tested for COVID-19 at a time when there are severe problems with the government’s Test and Trace system. I don’t know if other public schools were able to procure tests for their pupils but this was not something afforded to the state school system. Pupils there had to take their chances.

Once again those on the top rungs of the ladder have access to greater services than those lower down. Those at the top are protected and can carry on while those at the bottom are vulnerable and have to pay the price.

Our society is inherently unfair. By way of example there have been 14 Prime Ministers since the end of the second world war. Of these five went to Eton and eleven to Oxford University. Our choice of leaders comes from a very narrow strata of society, not one that is necessarily more skilled or talented but rather one that is the most lucky.

I am not advocating a fair society, such a thing is impossible, yet I am advocating a fairer society. If some children are to be tested for COVID-19 at school, then they all should have that chance.

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