Thursday, September 18, 2008

"That's Not Fair!"

I grew up as the oldest of five children - fairness was a big deal in our house. Food was scarce, my father was unemployed more than once during my growing up and for a while we lived on food stamps. Everything was divided into five equal pieces. And don't think we didn't measure carefully to see who might have 'mistakenly' gotten a 1/4 inch bigger piece of chicken cutlet (parmesean).

"Life isn't fair," my mother (and I'm sure yours) would say. I'm sure she got tired of saying it.

Did she try to make sure we each had equal amounts of food? Yes. But here's the thing - we didn't ALL like chicken cutlets the same. Is it fair that my brother, who never finished a meal, got the same amount of this delicious morsel as I did? He didn't need it. He didn't want it. And certainly couldn't appreciate it like I could.

Fairness and equality aren't the same thing.

Fairness is more about what is just than about what is equal. Not the easiest distinction to make, but it exists.

Right now during this presidential campaign, the issue of fairness is buzzing the airwaves. "Equal pay for an equal job." If what the media says is true, then women are paid 77% less than men. That should be unfathomable in this day and age.

But I wonder if it is really an issue of fairness. Should people be treated differently if they have different needs?

I think they should.

Watch this short video of Rick Lavoie, a renowned learning disabilities expert, and think about his statement-in order to be fair we have to treat people differently.