Simply put, life isn’t fair

By Tammy Keith Originally Published April 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 19, 2013 at 9:09 a.m.
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If you live long enough, you will learn: Life isn’t fair.

A group of preteen cheerleaders in Conway got that lesson a couple of weeks ago.

They practiced and practiced and did everything their coaches said to do to prepare for an out-of-state competition.

Because if you work hard, it will pay off. You will succeed. That’s what everyone says — coaches, teachers, moms and dads.

The girls did their best. In fact, they were pretty much perfect, from what I heard.

Points are given for specific skills, and some of the scoring is just cut and dried. They didn’t have to answer a subjective question about world peace.

They nailed their routine.

Then, the awards were called out. They didn’t win. Another team won, and from what I heard, even the girls on the winning team were shocked. In their hearts, they probably knew they didn’t deserve to win.

The crying, disappointed Conway girls couldn’t believe it. What in the world just happened?

Life isn’t fair. That’s what happened.

A cheerleading competition may seem like an unimportant thing, but it isn’t. They’re athletes, too. They’re learning work ethic and teamwork and all that good stuff we say the younger generation needs.

I woke up thinking about this because of the terrible things that have happened in the past couple of weeks.

It isn’t fair when a tornado blows away a church that members built with their own hands and faithfully attended.

It isn’t fair that six homes are destroyed, a lifetime of memories gone in seconds.

It isn’t fair when a precious, peace-loving 8-year-old boy watching a marathon gets killed by an evil person’s plot.

It isn’t fair that people died in an explosion at a plant in Texas.

It isn’t fair that a former co-worker has ALS, or a friend had a miscarriage, or a child will never have a normal life because of some crazy chromosome glitch.

The list could go on forever.

What you also learn, if you live long enough, is that how you react to tragedy and disappointment makes a difference.

I have on my guest-room bed a pillow my mother got me that has this saying: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

(Of course, that’s easy to say when you’re not cowering in a closet while a tornado takes off your roof.)

I’ve covered a lot of tornadoes and other tragedies in my career, and it’s the same every time. Good people shine through in the darkest times.

Strangers offer the shirts off their backs to stop the bleeding, stay and stroke a stranger’s hair until help arrives, carry victims on their backs, give food and hugs, come with chain saws and tractors, or pick through the debris to find photos.

I hate it when life’s not fair. It’s a hard one for our kids to have to learn, and it’s harder for us to watch them go through that process.

There’s nothing we can say, except that no, life’s not always fair. But we still have to work hard, do our best and believe that most of the time the right thing happens. How we react when it doesn’t is the best lesson of all.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or

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