What is fair?

In response to the Daily Prompt: No Fair.

I learned early that fair is subjective. Everyone defines it to suit their own world view. There was the notion of separate but equal, which was the concept that it is fair to have racial segregation as long as no one is being denied anything. Except that was impossible, people were denied basic rights, resources and opportunities based on skin color. Not Fair. We still are struggling with that concept, without defining it separate but equal, and the division is along economic lines, not strictly racial, although the crucial denials are still being experienced by many of the same people. Poor neighborhoods don’t have great schools, great jobs, great opportunities, because those who hold the wealth and power are working to keep it among themselves. Not Fair.

Overwhelmingly, people define fair as equal, although the practice of equality varies greatly. There is a popular attitude among the upper and middle socioeconomic classes that since no one is helping them, no one else should need help either. That, to many people sounds fair. Except in order to hold that view you have to ignore the opportunities and resources that you have, and ignore that not everyone has received those same resources and opportunities, and that is why they may need help that you don’t receive. Not Fair. That is why I have no sympathy for those who gripe about racism toward white people, or people with enough income to make ends meet complaining about those receiving benefits, no its not equal, but on the fairness scale, they come out on top.

My Mom said to me once that fair isn’t giving everyone the same, its giving everyone what they need. Should starving people be denied food because others are on diets to lose weight? Should kids with learning disabilities be denied tutoring and accommodations because their neurotically peers don’t get them? That I think is a great example that could serve as a metaphor for fairness on other levels of need. Giving struggling kids tutoring or accommodations others don’t get isn’t giving them an unfair advantage, its leveling the playing field. Giving everyone a fair chance.

Denying help to those who need it is Not Fair, despite what any disgruntled Americans espouse. Everyone deserves the same chance in life. It is the responsibility of the privileged, the wealthy, the powerful, to make sure that they are not complicit in the oppression and denying of others the chance at what they have already achieved. None of us are free until all of us are.

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2 Responses to What is fair?

  1. Pingback: Daily Prompt: No Fair | Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: No Fair | Joe's Musings

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