Does it really matter in the great scheme of things what we call it? Probably not -- it is still home to local 4H club kids showing off their pet piggies and lamby-pies just a hop, skip and a jump from the neighborhood's prize rose bud display in the garden arena; sandwiching corrals together, mixing the aromas of manure and cinnamon buns, we can put the kids on the backs of elephants and ponies; where just a quick gallop away we can come along gallery after gallery of elementary artwork to peruse (or at the very least, play the where's waldo game to find your own) or be awed by some body's avant garde collection of bottle caps, webkinz, or action heroes...
anything and everything you think a fair should be is here.
The rickety rides thrown together in 24 hours light up the night, music surrounds us, and the soft ocean breezes blow in from the west -- simply a squat on the bench with a lemonade in hand carries us into another realm of living in an instant, as if all was right with the world...oh and may you sweet deep fried Twinkies take me away...far, far away.
That's right. The best thing about the fair is the fair food!
and this year is truly no exception -- for it's theme is Taste the Fun!
It is sponsored by local restaurants, like the Brigantine and The Fish Market...Banners wave along Jimmy Durante Boulevard, advertising the fun and reminding us of the yummy-ness of the world in which we live...like a siren calling us in...bringing us front and center to the limelight awaiting us inside....following our nose we go... to the FOOD, glorious food. (last year it was the Year of the Heroes -- military, policemen, firemen... which was all well and wonderful and delicious too).
But I am getting way off the boardwalk already; for the thing is, what got me thinking today -- having started with the opening day of the fair -- has rolled into cotton candy and kettle corn of another kind -- and that is our definition of FAIR.
What is fair? What does it mean? How do we live in a fair society, equitably and justly, fair and square and objectively? Are we living more "fairly" today then we did yesterday, or have we tarnished the word altogether, getting broadsided by special allowances or exceptions to the rule?
For in being truly fair, we must be free from favoritism or bias -- not just sometimes, or under manufactured or social justice circumstances, but all the time; for that is only fair.
We designed a government to be limited and true directly related to the absolute fairness and equality of all men as endowed by our Creator.
Some things in life, we can quickly move to respond, in attitude and/or in action, coming from a not-so-happy place of 'that simply isn't fair...' A position that is a far cry from sitting on a bench, gazing at the stars up above and watching a ferris wheel* go round and round with your baby girl on the lap and the love of your life by your side, wondering what you're gonna eat next... A far cry indeed.
Sometimes life isn't fair -- either by sudden circumstance, the fate of the family we are born into, the reality back behind making a really bad choice (or two), or even the decisions made by other people totally out of our control or power to change -- as if...
except for the one key ingredient that changes everything -- YOU! Me! Our will to change the (mis)fortune laid out for us. There is a reason everything is fair in love and war -- for we are all equal, real life doesn't give any of us special favors. True unadulterated life does not come from affirmative action -- unless that action comes from our own two feet forward. There are no guarantees in real life -- anything can happen to us, around us, for us, against us at any time.
Once in awhile I catch Oprah's narration of the Discovery Channels latest mini-series on something aptly titled LIFE. From a story highlighting the tiniest creatures -- like frogs the size of our finger nail found deep in the rain forests -- to elephants living off the land nestled in the savanna of Africa -- life happens either to them or for them every day of their life, as long as they are alive. A Darwinian survival of the fittest, indeed; fair? Not in the least bit and in every bit, you bet.
It is no accident America has come so far, and in so short a time; if for a moment we can put things in perspective, I believe it would be quite fair to say that our founders gave America a leg up on this merry go round of life. While all this time -- sitting on the bench, mesmerized by our past successes and glittering lights -- how presumptive of us to think we could carry on the rich traditions, holding tight to the principles which made us rock solid and fortified, by simply showing up; as if that would be enough.
Life requires action and our responsibility to act all by our self; sure, we may be connected to a family, and may actually rely on that family from time to time -- some of us have no family, and we must rely on ourselves all of the time; but our founders recognized the truth inside each and every one of us, and fought long and hard to bring us the fairest of the fair in government.
From what I can tell, after fifteen minutes captured under the spell of "LIFE" --
perhaps it was the mellow, richness of the voice -- Oprah's -- which immediately puts me in a state of calm and reverence -- to what? its a mystery, but she just has this way about her, a voice distinction second to none, I'm positive I could sit on a bench, somewhere in Chicago, and listen to her all day --but anyway, as she narrated real life happening before our eyes, I'm beginning to think the animal kingdom has a leg up on us! We have no way to know for sure -- but I ask you, do you think they sit around and lament what they don't have, hanging about the water hole, just waiting for dinner to come to them, like a handout? Do they not have to show up every day, be it the tedious lifting of relocating their eggs out of danger so that another generation can live -- or climbing down the death defying sides of rocky cliffs in search of food five hundred feet below -- or run after rabbits or squirrels or prairie dogs before breakfast can even be had?
Animals weather acts of God, acts of man, and heinous acts of fellow animals while simply struggling to survive to live to see another day, every day, day in and day out, sun up to sun down, with sleep on high alert the entire night. Animals live neck and neck with a day of survival or not, as if it is just part of their DNA...maybe because it is; they make it look so natural, so easy really, or is it just the fact that we don't normally see it everyday? The animal world is in constant conflict, dog eat dog is a reality; how can we be so lucky?
Is it fair to say that we are truly advancing, or are we getting dumb and dumber?
From another angle, are we simply spoiled with our food being caught for us, in our fancy homes protecting us, with our children never knowing what a hard day's work is all about -- you know what I'm talking about, chores at dawn, homework before play, dishes after dinner, with lights out by nine -- and doing it all over again in the morning.
We have life so easy.
The thing is, what is most fair, when it really gets down to it, is everyone being treated the same -- the only leg up is the recognition of our duty to each other; that the continuing success and prosperity of this country, individually and collectively, comes to those who truly understand that there is no leg up in the first place. We must be motivated to make of life with what we are dealt.
Will it always seem fair? Just? Right? Without bias? Most likely not; but that's not the fault of the system, that is the fault of human nature.
As just as easily as it may come to some of us, it can be just as swiftly taken away; right now I have in mind the latest casualty, Reggie Bush. Oh my goodness, a sad day for those of us who live in our neck of the woods -- a local boy who has been shamed by a system bearing gifts and special benefits to his entire family just because he could play ball. With his Heisman still in jeopardy, only time stands in the way for justice to play itself out -- fair or not, the actions -- every one's, not just Reggie's -- cannot be undone.
While across the ocean we have another level of ball playing out for all the world to see -- for the first high stakes event, The World Cup, of all things -- is on display in South Africa. Without question, we could have a field day with story-lines of what is fair and just being played out for generations under a veil of unspeakable injustice and long lasting anguish on both sides of the river...the country has been in a state of unrest for forever and a day it seems.
Rather, since sporting events never fail to pick up on the plethora of soul stories for the full scoop on the community of athletes, as well as the surrounding collective, it may be more fair to choose to listen to real life stories play out of remarkable people rising out of nothing, watch a city light up for the first time ever on the world's stage, risking everything and taking billions of dollars to do it; and hopefully, in the end, be in the midst of witnessing something truly great -- a turn for the better in every possible way for a region wrecked by racial strife and challenges.
And for those of us looking out for team USA, another local boy, Steve Cherundolo, an alum of Mt. Carmel High School here in San Diego, is playing for the American team. And when he was asked about being up against England on Saturday -- a entire team tooting the horn of million dollar babies (with a combined annual salary of $85.8 milion dollars! God Save the Queen) -- he had this to say:
"It's still a team sport, our huge advantage and our biggest weapon is our team spirit, our team unity, our willingness to work for one another..." all in all, it's just "their eleven guys against our eleven guys, reputations go out the window," added a team mate, Jay DeMerit.It's a game, and any team can win. Is that so AMERICAN, or what?!
In other words, it's life -- we live it or lose it, to the fullest extent of the word itself, every day.
Our founders gave America a gift; our government was limited by choice. And to that end, America's success was very much reliant upon the entire team to do their part, day in and day out, fair and square, and most of all, without favor. They truly believed in our individual ability to succeed in life, through liberty, in our pursuit of happiness; and further, that it was not only free for the taking, but unlimited, whatever we could dream it could be -- if left to our own hard work, talents, and strength of character to usher us into greatness.
To piggyback on Cherundolo, America's secret weapon would be our team spirit, our unity, our willingness to work for one another...with no legs up...and certainly no handicaps. We could win on our own two feet, and accomplish anything we set our mind to, or totally blow it. Knowing full and well, things may not be fair and just and right (like a recent no hitter baseball game that didn't get into the history books...)
It might even be said that America lives for the underdog -- and quite possibly, was made by underdogs -- for out of nothing we came out of nowhere and made something happen.
We are a country that, for the longest time, has been home to the fairest of the fair, the land of the free, home of the brave, and the best and the brightest (even if it's only a state of mind) for as long we have lived; the key now, will be convincing our children, and our children's children, just how much work it takes, day in and day out -- and with that, another anecdote, there ain't no thing as a free lunch (I can see we have a whole lot of work ahead, now don't we).
The fair is in town only once a year -- for the rest of the time, our moments sitting on the bench with a glazed over expression doing absolutely nothing must find a delicate balance between a life of action and a life of consequence.
However it turns out, rest assured LIFE doesn't play favorites, anything can happen, from beginning to end, until the whistle blows -- if the good Lord willin' and the creek don't rise -- and that's just a fact, of life.
Make it a Good Day, G
Realizing this has no merit and has nothing to do with anything, but maybe England's soccer team could pony-up to help England's BP problem... and dribble a few bucks our way to help clean up the gulf...just saying...85 million dollars a year! ...talk about kicking some butt...
* the Ferris Wheel, was invented for the Chicago World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 -- by an American Engineer, George W.G. Ferris (1859-1896). The purpose of the fair was to challenge american engineers with the task of toppling the engineering feat of building the Eiffel Tower, with something even more magnificent. Mr. Ferris' idea was thought to be ridiculous -- but he was determined. He wished to design a contraption that people could ride and be able to view the entire expo...and he did. It cost $400,000! But low and behold, in the end, after charging 50 cents/twenty minute ride -- they even made money! Mr. Ferris was in litigation nearly to the day he died, fighting to recoup his money from the organizers. He died of typhoid fever before he could enjoy a penny -- fair? hardly. But boy did the rest of us luck out.