An Unfair World

DO YOU agree that we live in an unfair world? No doubt you do. After all, whatever our talents are and however wisely we plan our lives, we are guaranteed neither wealth nor success nor even food. It often turns out as wise King Solomon of old said: “Bread does not belong to the wise, nor wealth to the intelligent, nor success to the skilful.” Why? Because, Solomon continues, “time and chance govern all.”​—Ecclesiastes 9:11, The New English Bible.

“When Bad Times Come Suddenly”

Yes, “time and chance,” which often means being in the wrong place at the wrong time, often wrecks our carefully laid plans and fondest hopes. According to Solomon, we are “like fish caught in a net, like a bird taken in a snare, . . . when bad times come suddenly.” (Ecclesiastes 9:12, NE) Millions of people, for example, work tirelessly to cultivate the ground to get food for their families, only to find themselves trapped in “bad times” when the rains fail and drought destroys their crops.

Others try to help, but even the help given to victims of “bad times” by the rest of the world community often seems unfair. In the fight against famine, for example, in one recent year, “the whole continent [of Africa] received in aid just one-fifth of the money that was allocated to the Gulf war,” according to one leading relief agency. Was it fair that those with the resources spent five times as much money fighting a war in one country as they spent on alleviating the pain and suffering caused by famine on a whole continent? And is it fair in a time of material prosperity for many that 1 in 4 of earth’s inhabitants still lives in absolute poverty or that millions of children die each year of preventable diseases? Surely not!

Of course, more than “time and chance” are involved when “bad times come suddenly.” Powerful forces completely beyond our control also dominate our lives and dictate  what happens to us. That was certainly true in Beslan, Alania, in the autumn of 2004, when hundreds of people, many of them young children on their first day at school, were killed in a brutal conflict between terrorists and security forces. True, exactly who died and who survived in that tragedy was largely a matter of chance​—but the fundamental cause of those “bad times” was human conflict.

Will It Always Be This Way?

“But that is the way life is,” some say when speaking about injustices. “It has always been that way, and it will always be.” According to them, the strong will always oppress the weak, and the rich will always exploit the poor. That combined with “time and chance,” they say, will affect us as long as the human family exists.

Does it really have to be this way? Will it ever be possible for those who use their abilities intelligently and wisely to reap a just reward for all their hard work? Can anyone do anything to bring permanent, lasting change to an unfair world? Consider what the next article has to say on this subject.

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COVER: Man with a child: UN PHOTO 148426/McCurry/Stockbower

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MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images