Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

March 3, 2014

COMMUNITY OF CHARACTER: Talking about fairness

By Louise Gorenflo
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Fairness is concerned with actions and processes that are morally right, honorable and equitable. From an early age, people develop strong opinions about what is fair and what isn’t. However, fairness is one of the most difficult core ethical values to define because it’s often a matter of perception. People tend to view decisions that help them as “fair” and those that don’t as “unfair.”

Although some decisions are clearly unfair, there is often more than one fair choice. To ensure that choices are fair to as many people as possible, rules should be clear to all involved, everyone should abide by them, and everyone must be treated the same under them. To be fair, decision need to strive for impartiality. Prejudice thwarts fairness as it advantages one group over another.

When making a fair decision, everyone affected by the decision needs to have open access to the information upon which a decision is based. Everyone should feel they can express their opinions and participate in making a decision.

After a decision is made, the clear rules need to be applied consistently. Injustices are promptly corrected either voluntarily or through established procedures so that trust in the fairness of the process is preserved.

Good sportsmanship is based on a keen sense of fairness. True fairness is not based on equality but on meeting individual needs. All the players agree to adhere to the high standards of play. Those in leadership positions don’t play their favorites, giving everyone on the team an opportunity to play.

In the big world, outside of a playing field or a decision-making process, fairness is not always so clear-cut. Everyone seems to have their own idea of what is fair. Nonetheless, we have a pretty good consensus on what is fair: do onto others as you would have them do to you. Thinking about how your actions will affect others can avoid much harm and ill-will. Instead of blaming someone for getting in the way of what you want, look at how you might have contributed to the situation either by your behavior or attitude.

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that struck home: “I’m something of a big deal.” We have to remember everyone feels that way and give everyone the opportunity to live their life fully and well.

May you find what I have presented interesting and something you can use in your life. I invite you to email me your thoughts (lgorenflo@gmail.com).