I was looking at my QUALITIES OF SUCCESS the other day (please click on the link to refresh yourself on these– they are well worth reading over again!) and I saw that the word “FAIR” wasn’t listed.
That doesn’t seem like the fair I’m talking about.
What’s wrong with fairness? Isn’t fairness a good thing? Shouldn’t we be fair? Well, maybe. We need to understand what fairness is before we can decide whether one should be fair. Dictionary.Com has quite a few definitions HERE: Okay, sounds good to me, but then we have people saying that rich people need to pay their fair share of taxes to fix the problem our government has caused for us. Nevermind that the top 10% of taxpayers pay more than 50% of all taxes in America. We also have people on both sides of the illegal immigration debate talking about how the other side isn’t being fair. We also have the concept of a Fair Tax, which many people believe wouldn’t be fair at all. Fairness kinda sounds like it sucks!
But then this happened: I’m in a classroom last week, and I go through my standard introduction. As part of my introduction, I talk a little bit about how strongly I feel about making sure I follow my Qualities of Success. A student in the back did the whole <cough>Bulls**t!<cough> thing. He didn’t believe that I followed concepts like HONESTY, COURTESY, HUMILITY, and the others. He was all too used to teachers who would say that they valued these qualities, but would rarely display them in everyday actions. He wasn’t convinced.
And this happened too. I was in a school that I had been in once before where a student did something stupid and took a swing at me. I treated it like a disciplinary issue and refused to press charges (considering my shirt wasn’t even wrinkled, I would have had a hard time proving damage). When I went back, this kid became my most ardent supporter, almost to the point where I would have had to discipline him for going too far.
In the first case, I told my students that I would never hold them accountable for something I wouldn’t hold myself accountable. Even to the point of reading out loud and sharing personal stories. By the end of the class, because of the reading and other things, he tells me, “You really do believe in being fair.”
Should fairness be a Quality of Success? It really depends on what you call fair. If you believe fairness to treat all equally, I can get behind that. If you mean treating some less equally than others because you think you are “evening the playing field”, don’t call that fair. Part of the greatness of America is that everybody should have a fair shot at grabbing the medal. Whether we do or not depends on how much work we are willing to put in the quest. As a fat guy, I can’t expect to get on the track with HICHAM EL GUERROUJ and compete. Now, some might say that we should give me a 6 minute head start to make things more fair. I say get the fat guy off the track.
Last year, Miss California CARRIE PREJEAN was asked a serious question by a comedic “judge”. She gave an honest answer, and it cost her Miss USA. This year Miss Oklahoma was asked a serious question by a very funny judge. She gave an honest answer, and there is a rumor that it cost her Miss USA. Is that fair? On the other side, nobody remembers who actually won last year, and people are challenging the legitimacy of this year’s winner. Is that fair? In the interest of full disclosure, I have a lot of respect for OSCAR NUNEZ. His work on The Office is hilarious. I have no problem with him. In further full disclosure, I have absolutely no use for Mario Lavandeira Jr.
Recently, and more importantly, kids have been the victim of some severely unfair situations.
- HAYDOCK INTERMEDIATE SCHOOL: Look, kids will try to do what they can do. I used to try to get away with whatever I could, and I respect that in others. But for the other kids in this class, and for the parents of the students in question, this was an unfair situation. The teacher involved here shouldn’t be getting paid after allowing this to go on. As a teacher, I’m ashamed in my peers who think this is somehow not the teacher’s fault.
- PARAMOUNT HIGH SCHOOL: I remember being a senior. School was stressful. We did some stupid stuff to burn off steam. But when my group did our stupid stuff, we didn’t do it AT SCHOOL. What was allowed to happen there was unfair to many students, including the students on stage.
- LIVE OAK HIGH SCHOOL: Here is a case where being unfair isn’t limited to the adults. The kids knew they were going to start something. They probably figured they were going to piss some people off. The problem here is that they have the absolute right to do so, thanks to all the Viet Nam protesters.
There are many other examples, but rather than focus on what fair isn’t, I’m going to suggest you practice what it is.
When you are at school or work, try to be fair. See how it goes. If you have something to say, you probably want others to listen to you. Isn’t it only fair that you listen to their opinions as well? If they disagree with you, that just means they have a different opinion. Is there anything unfair about that?