Posted by: Mike Willoughby | December 7, 2009

Not Fair!

“Not Fair!” 

Anyone with more than two kids in the family probably recognizes the anthem of the middle child.  It seems to be a natural birth order trait for the middle child to be concerned with justice in the world and, more specifically, within the family.  Caught between the first-born who is naturally first at most everything and therefore seems to have inherited preferential treatment and one or more babies of the family who seem to be granted extra measures of grace – the middle child is the family’s traffic cop.  According to the middle child, everyone should be treated with equity and fairness (unless of course it’s one of those rare occasions when middle child receives a crumb of favoritism from the family table).  This Intersections article is hereby dedicated to all the middle children who suffer in a world that’s just not fair.

I have to admit I didn’t originally plan to write about this topic today.  However, my intersection with our judicial system today in the form of jury service got me thinking.  You have time to think while sitting in a jury pool waiting for the wheels of justice to slowly turn.  As imperfect as our judicial system may be, it is still the finest system of human justice in the world.  Observation of the Italian system as it delivered a verdict in the Amanda Knox case in Perugia, Italy should make us all grateful for our American jury of peers, unanimous verdicts, presumption of innocence and the high bar of “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases.  Regardless of Knox’s actual guilt or innocence, you have to question the process that led to her guilty verdict over the past weekend.  It’s hard to see how justice was done in this case.

When I got up this morning, I have to admit to the same attitude toward my obligation as many of you have probably had on similar mornings.  Last time I reported to the court house, I had the joy of spending a week hearing arguments in a civil trial and I somehow got elected to be the foreman of the jury.  That trial involved a dentist and a computer technician in a disagreement over money and services delivered.  It was as painful as a root canal to listen to them bicker over an issue that should have been settled out of court.  By the time the issue reached trial, each of them had spent more in legal fees than the amount in dispute.  They were both guilty of stupidity and stubbornness and it was difficult for the jury to apply justice to this odd situation.  In the end, we sent them home with instructions to pay their attorneys from their own pockets and more or less split the disputed money.  Although in many respects that experience seemed like a waste of time for everyone involved, justice is not a trivial matter in our society.  We are blessed to live in a society where everyone has the right to his or her day in court. 

Justice is also not a trivial matter to God.

The Bible is full of statements from God concerning justice and equity particularly for those most helpless in society.  The Bible not only speaks of God’s love for justice, it lists justice as one of God’s eternal attributes.  Deuteronomy 32:4 reads, “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice.  A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.”  In Isaiah 61:8, God says, “For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong.”  Perhaps the middle children are on to something here!  As faithful believers, maybe we should be more concerned with fairness and equity.  God certainly seems to be concerned with such things.

I filed this article under the Community category since it was community service that inspired my writing today.  Since I was juror number 48 in a pool of 48 prospects, I was not called to serve Collin County beyond today.  For that I am grateful.  However, should I have been called to serve once more, it would have been a privilege to be a part of bringing justice to both the defendant and the victims.  Today is Pearl Harbor Day and I am thinking of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who served and died to ensure that we are guaranteed a day in court with a jury of our peers.  I’m thinking of my late Grandfather Craig who served in World War II, my wife’s Uncle Darrell and her brother, Darrell who both served and all the other members of my family with military service.  I am grateful for those who have served in our military at great sacrifice and I am thankful to God that I live in the United States of America.  Next time you receive a jury summons, join me in trying to replace those initial feelings of frustration and irritation with an attitude of gratitude and thanksgiving instead.

However, justice is not reserved to the courtroom.  As I have reminded Matthew (my middle son) a thousand times, “life is not fair.”  Middle children hate to hear that.  Even though life is truly not fair, we should not be the source any of life’s inequities.  This week let’s all be part of making life more fair for those around us.  Whether in the workplace, the community, our churches or our families, this is a great season to go out of our way to bring justice into the lives of folks who have experienced too much injustice.  When unsure about whether justice is due, remember a couple of other things God cares very much about – mercy and grace!  Thank God I have received mercy and grace from Him when I truly deserve only His justice!

Next week, I will write about the gift of God to all mankind – Peace.  Come back next Monday to share with me in thinking about living out a genuine faith in the real world by being a Peacemaker in the workplace.    

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


  1. I enjoyed your blog very much. I have been called several times for jury duty but have not been chosen–which disappointed me greatly. I am one of those odd ones, I guess, in that I have always looked forward to the opportunity. Though I am not a middle child, I have 3 middle children and they could never understand why they couldn’t do as the oldest one was able to do. When they themselves were older, they could figure out why the “baby” got to do things they weren’t allowed to do. Hmm, that does seem a bit unfair, doesn’t it. Probably those middle children learned the better lesson when life isn’t fair.” Thanks for sharing, Mike!

  2. Ok, this is a little unFAIR. I’m not the only one that always says that. But when I do, it’s true. And I hate the whole “life isn’t fair” quote.

  3. I have spent nearly twenty-one years trying to convince my children that ‘life isn’t fair’ and even more importantly that life not being fair is a good thing. The difficulties, trials and tests that we endure because life isn’t fair are but minor potholes in the grand plan on the road of Justice.

    God demands Justice and for each and every sinful human being, that justice is spiritual death. Our sin, they very sin that nailed our Lord and Savior to the cross is the equivalent to cosmic treason in the eyes of our Father and our disobedience deserves His justice.

    Now, this is where ‘life isn’t fair’ really is a blessing for each of us who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We deserve death and eternal separation from God for our sin, yet because of His Son’s sacrifice on the cross we are shown His mercy by receiving Jesus’ finished work on the cross and spending eternity with Him in glory.

    Yes, thankfully life isn’t fair and we have a merciful loving Father.

    • Amen, brother. Keep coming back and contributing to the discussion!

  4. I will pass this on to Garrett :)…

  5. […] and fellow blogger Bobby Ross recently posted thoughts about Invictus.  Friend and fellow blogger Mike Willoughby recently wrote about dealing with life’s unfairness.  Read both for great insights.  […]

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