My Fair Lady
One of my favorite movies is My Fair Lady (1964). I like the witty songs and especially the emphasis on words and speech. But the most important part of the movie, for me, is Professor Henry Higgins and how easily I relate to him. Higgins is a self-centered, driven man who doesn’t believe he is anything but fair. I have been, and sometimes still am, just like him. He hides behind the idea of fairness and, even as he is falling for Eliza Dolittle, is desperate to hold on to his old way of “equality.” See this exchange below:
Professor Henry Higgins: “You see, the great secret, Eliza, is not a question of good manners or bad manners, or any particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls. The question is not whether I treat you rudely, but whether you’ve ever heard me treat anyone else better.”
Eliza Doolittle: “Ooh, you are a devil. You can twist the heart in a girl the same way some fellows twist her arms to hurt her!”
I believe that good, respected men who couldn’t imagine twisting the arm of a girl to hurt her, and would pound a man who does, do as much harm to the people they love by treating them “fairly.”
Better than Fair
A few years ago I was asked to coach a 9 and 10-year-old basketball team. Britton, my son, was on the team and was a decent player who really liked the game. There were only six kids on the team so it was easy to make sure each of them got significant playing time. But I made the decision at the beginning of the year that my son would play. I was the coach. He is my son. That boy’s gonna play. I didn’t treat any of the other kids unfairly. That would have been wrong. But I treated none of the other kids as my son.
It took me a long time to get to that point. There was a time that Brit would have been the first one to sit on the bench, the first one to get in trouble with “Coach,” and (maybe) the first one to hate the game. I would have couched my bad attitude in the terms of fairness and non-partiality.
I believe there is a better way.
I ask men to treat all people with fairness, grace, and respect. But save something special for your bride and your kids. Save special words, special patience, and special gifts back just for them.
They are not everyone else.