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Bev: It’s not fair that you can use my car whenever you want, but when I need your van, you say no.
John: No one ever said life is fair, dear.
The phrase is one that, on the surface, sounds like a philosophical true. Therein lies the problem, or at least one of the problems. It comes from a place of superiority (one up—one down), and its patronizing, and often associated with parents trying to teach their children about life. Or is it?
It IS patronizing, and it doesn’t work with adults, but what’s below lurking in the presuppositions. What else is being “said”. Here’s a few of the meanings hidden in this phrase:
· I can’t be bothered to give you an explanation.
· You don’t mean enough to me to talk about this.
· I’m not going to talk about this like an adult.
When someone expresses a concern, that person deserves an explanation, and a discussion, not a trite attempt at philosophy.
If you use this phrase like John did, you will start an argument that goes nowhere but to a bad place.
Make It Better:
Even children deserve an explanation suitable to their age — the younger the child, the simpler the explanation, but a brief statement of philosophy, by itself, isn’t enough.
For adults, give an explanation.
· John: Bev, The thing is that I use the van for my work, and sometimes I need it on short notice. If you’re using it, I’m stuck, in the event I need it.