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Is Life Fair? Inspiration For Today

'For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.' Albert Camus

My son Joe (12) asked me this question, 'Mum, is life fair?'. Apparently, one of his teachers told him that it isn't. Anyway, he asked me to write about it.

Here's the thing: life cannot be either fair or unfair. Why? Because life is a noun or a naming word; the kind of word we use to describe something much bigger than that word. Like mountain. Life itself is a four letter word, it doesn't make decisions about anything. You can't blame the word for what happens, except apparently when the word is terror and then you can go to war with it. A war on terror.

But against the backdrop of devastation playing out in so many people's lives right now, it seems right to ask this question - is life fair? It's a question that has stayed with me. I'm going to pause there and tell you a story.

We decided to watch this movie The North Face. You know how it is, you go to your movie store, you choose a DVD, you read the back cover, take it home and watch it. The back cover led us to believe that this was going to be 'a suspenseful adventure about one man's dream to climb the most dangerous mountain in Europe'. An against all odds evening in - where drama, love and courage would be being served up alongside our popcorn. Except it wasn't.

The North Face actually recounts the true and harrowing predicament of Toni Kurz, a young German mountaineer, and his efforts to conquer the Eiger, a monster mountain in Switzerland. The north face of the Eiger is a sombre and intimidating menace. Few climbers approach the foot of the face without an aching sense of dread. The intricate line of the classic first ascent route involves 13,000ft of climbing - almost two miles uphill on hands and knees - over some of the most inhospitable terrain imaginable. The north face has a well-earned reputation as a killer.

The mountain did indeed leave Kurz and his three companions dead, but not before Kurz has demonstrated the most remarkable selflessness and endurance against ever shortening odds. Joe Simpson, a respected mountaineer, and author of Touching the Void, had this to say about Kurz's story:

'It is not simply a mountaineering narrative: it is an everyman story. It speaks of the enduring qualities of humanity - determination and steadfastness in extremis, loyalty and selflessness among friends, the most extraordinary display of raw courage and a nobility of valour that seems sometimes very distant today.'

There was no feel good, happy ending to this movie. We watched four men lose the fight for their lives from the safety of our sofa. The hero did not get the medal or the girl. It just didn't seem fair.

And I thought about life. The time we spend on this planet between birth and death. Do we do it justice? Toni Kurz did, he lived every minute and even when he was down to his last few minutes, he lived well. He lived all the implacable (or uncompromising) grandeur of his life. The life he had part been given, part chosen.

Is life fair? No one could say that life on this planet is easy, but neither could one say that it cannot be kind or beautiful or profound. I've had days when I have despaired of my life and hoped for another. And yet. We are given this life.

I can either watch from my sofa or determine to live with commitment. Climb the mountain, because what is life without a seemingly impossible challenge? Live well, because what is life unless it is lived with courage and love? Enjoy the moment, because what is life without joy?

'You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance- the place, LORD, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.' Exodus 15 v17, NIV

No one could say that life on this planet is easy, but neither could one say that it cannot be kind or beautiful or profound. So after all this thinking, I am left with another question. Not so much is life fair but rather - do I do justice to the life I have?

Joe and I would love to know what you think.