Thursday, February 16, 2012

Just a Thought: What is Fair?

     I was thinking about things the other day: wondering about where I stand, where I could be, where I would be if I didn't do certain things and vice versa.  Most of all, I was wondering if my position in the world was a fair one.  What I realized is that I didn't really know what to consider fair or unfair.  I don't think many of us - if any at all - can really come up with a clear definition of what "fair" really is.  Sure, the dictionary has a simple definition that anyone can use, but it is such a vague term since the definition can vary so widely depending on where you are in your life: be it from a professional, political, religious, ethnic or financial standpoint.  I am sure there are other areas which I am overlooking, but my point is this: how can we talk about what is fair when we don't even know what is FAIR to begin with?  Sure, we can say what we perceive to be fair for ourselves, but fairness to one person may not be so fair to the next.
     To me, fairness is not something that can be defined by the masses.  I think the definition varies from person to person.  I have worked hard to get to where I am today.  I am not wealthy, but I am not struggling either.  I have made my mistakes, and learned from most of them.  Where I am today was determined by my previous experiences, good and bad.  So, in retrospect, I think that - based on my compensation, living situation, family, etc. - life has been pretty fair to me.  But it's not all about me.

     I think it is fair that someone who has worked hard to achieve a high level of success should be able to reap the rewards that come with that success rather than being scrutinized for the life of frivolity they live.  I think it is NOT fair that - as much as wealthy people are taxed - people at the bottom expect them to pay even more because they are not paying their "fair share".  To me, that is penalizing success and rewarding failure.  I think it is not fair for someone who has worked so hard to have to dole out insane amounts of money to supplement the living of people who choose not to do anything for themselves.  (I would like to clarify, that not all people who are on public welfare fall into this criteria, so before you get offended and attempt to chop my head off: I do understand that some folks are in that position due to unforeseen circumstances, and that some people legitimately have it hard.)

     I think it is fair for everyone to have an equal shot at success.  People often misinterpret an equal shot for being a guarantee, so when they don't succeed, they cry foul and blame the system.  I know I could be much further ahead than where I am now, but I decided not to pursue my education.  I chose the route of the military, and even then I could have still taken classes.  Rather than taking classes, I chose to frequent the bars and club scene.  Now I have a family and work nights.  While pursuing an education is not necessarily out of reach, there are definitely more variables to consider and less time which can be allotted for that purpose.  At no point have I pointed the finger and blamed anyone.  I had plenty of opportunities to pursue that pinnacle of my life, but chose to do other things instead.  The phrase "your loss is someone else's gain" is completely applicable, and is - in my honest opinion - the closest universal definition of fairness.  Everyone has a chance, whether they want to believe it or not.  People are so devoted to pointing fingers and defining fairness based on their own personal interests, when in reality, fairness has been there the whole time.

     I don't care what your walk of life is: don't tell me life isn't fair and blame it on someone or a group of people.  Everyone has a chance: how you go from there is completely on you.  It is easy for people to blame their upbringing on why they are in the position they are in; people also have a tendency to blame the color of their skin, their religion, their sexual orientation and other factors as contributing reasons why they are not treated fairly.  By placing blame on those factors, you are contributing to your own stereotype.  If your background is consistent with poverty, drugs and violence, you decide to blame that for your failure.  I call BS, because I know a bunch of people who came from that exact walk of life, and are achieving immense success.  Heck, look no further than your television screen.  There are actors, singers, CEOs, and all sorts of other successful people who came from the lowest of lows.  You know what they did?  They took advantage of the opportunity that you DID NOT take.  That is absolutely fair.

     Fairness is so difficult to define because people only define it as it pertains to them.  If that is how you want to pursue it, that is fine by me: but nothing will ever be fair to you.

     I pose this question to you all, and feel more than free to respond (remember, we are simply trying to establish opinions, not who is wrong or right): How much better or worse do you think the world would be if everyone earned the same amount of money and had the same exact entitlements regardless of what your career and status in society was?  I ask this question only because that is pretty much how it would look based on the dictionary's definition of fair ("free from bias...neither excellent nor poor" according to

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