How Can I Take Care of Me and Be Fair to You: A Woman’s Urgent Question

By Nancy Huntting

Amy Dorrit (Claire Foy)
Amy Dorrit (Claire Foy) BBC’s Little Dorrit

[Includes a consideration of part of Dicken’s Little Dorrit.]  

Pretty early people come to feel that fairness to others is not what takes care of us. After all, just thinking about others takes time away from ourselves. I wanted very much to believe I was a “fair” person, but what I went by actually had little to do with fairness. What I felt is expressed by Ellen Reiss in an issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known:

The way to take care of myself in this world is not to bother about most of it—but to see 95 percent of reality as uninteresting or something to fear. The way to take care of myself is to…manage and own selected items from a world I scorn.

This is a description of contempt, and the feeling of supremacy it brings is very attractive.  I didn’t see it was against what really took care of me, which is described by Ms. Reiss in these sentences:

This world not myself is very large, and I have to do with all of it. I want to use the hours of my life to know and be fair to the world—it’s what I was born for.

It’s made a huge, happy difference in my life and in the life of every woman I’ve had the privilege to teach in Aesthe­tic Realism consulta­tions, to learn that our deepest desire is honestly to like the world, to be fair to it.

Being Fair to People & Our Own Expression—
What’s the Relation?

In her first consultation we asked Shelley Wainwright, a young woman who had a sweetness and quiet assurance in her manner, a question Mr. Siegel asked in Aesthetic Realism lessons: “What do you have most against yourself?” And she told us:

Shelley Wainwright: I guess, not being more understanding of people. Or actually I should say forgiving.

Consultants: Well, do you think that if you were more understand­ing, you might be more forgiving?

SW: Yes, perhaps I would.       More