I cannot be unfairly treated?

Question: A Course in Miracles says, "You cannot be unfairly treated" (T-26.X.3:2). I'm in a situation where I feel like I'm being unfairly treated. How can I change my perception of this situation?

Answer: This is a challenging teaching for all of us, because there are certainly times when it looks like we're being unfairly treated. As with any teaching in the Course, the way to shed light on what this idea means is to look at its immediate context. Here is the paragraph from which this line is drawn:

Unfairness and attack are one mistake, so firmly joined that where one is perceived the other must be seen. You cannot be unfairly treated. The belief you are is but another form of the idea you are deprived by someone not yourself. Projection of the cause of sacrifice is at the root of everything perceived to be unfair and not your just deserts. Yet it is you who ask this [sacrifice] of yourself, in deep injustice to the Son of God. You have no enemy except yourself, and you are enemy indeed to him because you do not know him as yourself. What could be more unjust than that he be deprived of what he is, denied the right to be himself, and asked to sacrifice his Father's Love and yours as not his due? (T-26.X.3:1-7)

Again, at times it sure looks like our troubles come from other people sticking it to us. But as Pogo famously said, we have met the enemy, and he is us. In a situation where you feel unfairly deprived by someone else, the truth is that "Only you can deprive yourself of anything" (T-11.IV.4:1). What's actually going on in the situation, then, is that you deprived yourself, and then pinned the blame for that deprivation onto your brother. You threw your treasure away then accused him of stealing it.

Does this mean that your deprivation is actually fair? There is a sense in which that's true: If you deprive yourself, your "just deserts" (3:4) will be an experience of deprivation—it's simply a law of mind. However, in a larger sense, the whole situation described here is unfair, because it is an attack on the Son of God, and "unfairness and attack are one mistake" (3:1). All attack is unfair, a "deep injustice to the Son of God" (3:4). Your choice to deprive yourself is unfair to you, a denial of your inheritance as the Son of God. Blaming your brother for this deprivation is unfair to him, a denial of his inheritance as the Son of God. And since we're all playing this blame game, we're all being unfair to one another on a regular basis. Indeed, since this world is a place of attack, it is soaked through with unfairness.

This unfairness has painful consequences. Through your decision to deprive yourself and then blame your brother for it, you are trying to purchase your "innocence" with his guilt. This obscures from both of you the true purpose of your relationship, which is to forgive each other and thus see the source of true innocence in each other: the holy Presence of Christ and God. As the section goes on to say, playing the blame game causes you to see a "dim and threatening" (6:2) world poised to treat you unfairly at every opportunity. You will see yourself as "deprived of light, abandoned to the dark, unfairly left without a purpose in a futile world" (6:3). Isn't this how we feel when we think of ourselves as unfairly treated?

Ironically, our very belief that some attacks are unfair implies that other attacks—like retaliation against someone who has done something wrong in our eyes—are fair, sensible, and just. This belief reinforces our conviction that attack is real. The good news, however, is that all attack is unreal. The truth is that "all [attacks] are senseless, equally without a cause or consequence, and cannot have effects of any kind" (2:6). Thus, not only is your brother innocent of causing your deprivation, but you are innocent as well, because the self-attack you projected onto him is entirely unreal. Everyone involved is innocent—not the false "innocence" of the enraged victim that must come at the cost of another's guilt, but the true innocence of the sinless Son of God.

Seeing this innocence is what sets us free. But how do we see it? This section gives us some challenging counsel: "Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated" (4:1). How do we resist this temptation in those situations where it looks like we're getting the short end of the stick? The key is to set aside the details of the external situation entirely. (Though of course, once your perception is shifted in the way outlined here, you will want to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance about what to do in the external situation.) In worldly terms, it could be that your brother is actually treating you with love but you're misinterpreting it, or it could be that your brother is actually attacking you and thus being unfair to you. But all this is immaterial; what's needed is a vision that looks beyond worldly terms, and this section concludes with a practice to help us do just that. Think of that situation in which you think your brother is unfairly treating you, and say these words with as much willingness as you can:

By this [perception of unfairness] do I deny the Presence of the Father and the Son.
And I would rather know of Them than see injustice, which Their Presence shines away.
(6:6-7)

The goal of this practice is increase your motivation to see beyond the apparent unfairness. Would you rather see a "dim and threatening" world with a knife at your throat, or "the Presence of the Father and the Son"? Would you rather see injustice, or have Their Presence shine it away? The promise of this practice is that your increased motivation to see truly will reveal the Presence of the Father and the Son in that very person you were accusing of injustice before. And with this new perception will come the vision of a whole new world beyond the surface unfairness of the world we see: a world suffused with the Holy Spirit's justice. "The world is fair because the Holy Spirit has brought injustice to the light within, and there has all unfairness been resolved and been replaced with justice and with love" (6:4). Is this not what all of us would rather see?

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