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A simple argument between my grandchildren in our pool caused me to ponder the truth about fairness. As you can guess, it sounded something like this, “you’re not being fair” (response) “you’re just not getting your way!” And then there was stomping and tears with a “time-out” following. Kind of sounds a lot like our world today!

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Photo by Sora Shimazaki on

Let’s Define Fairness

To be fair means to abide by all the rules and standards. It also means to act without cheating or an unjust advantage. The truth about fairness is that more often than not we define it by “standards” that are convenient and work for ourselves. Someone else on the other hand will likely define it by “standards” that are convenient and work for them. The result is conflict – “that’s not fair!”

So I took a little deeper dive into fairness and what is it that most people are seeking. As you may have already guessed there is an abundance of articles on the philosophy and ideology of “fairness”. I did, however, find one very concise article that explained so much. Here’s a link if you would like to take a look.

Three Thoughts

When my grandchildren were arguing about fairness, the real issue was equality. One felt that the playing field wasn’t equal. This is what the experts would call “sameness”. Sameness means everything is equal to everyone. Need has no impact and equality is the only outcome.

Another idea of fairness if “deservedness”. This is the idea that you get what you deserve. If you work hard, you get a greater reward. If you are lazy, you get less or nothing. Fairness is broken down to a calculation and each person is free to pursue what they deserve.

The third idea is fairness as “need”. This means that if you have more, you should give more. Community responsibility is attached to this kind of fairness. In addition, compassion must be involved in determining who gives and who receives.

What We Really Want

Wow, the truth about fairness is quite complex and no one ideology will cover all of life’s circumstances. What I see is that we need a combination of all of these meanings – a mix and match if you will.

Certainly, there should be sameness in regards to justice and access to opportunities. Deservedness must not be ignored in regard to work ethic, merit and competition. And need must always move us toward compassion for others. Conflict happens when people only have one definition of fairness and it’s always what benefits them the most.

Final Thoughts

A philosopher I am not, but “my way or the highway” thinking gets us nowhere and only creates division. In Micah 6:8 God tells us “…seek justice, love mercy and kindness, and walk humbly with God”. I believe this sums up the truth about fairness. When we are seeking justice (sameness), loving others with mercy and kindness (need), and walking with humility and not thinking more of ourselves than we should (deservedness) we are ushering in fairness for ourselves and our community.

I believe we all “win” when we seek to better ourselves and others at the same time.

Hoping this post gave you something to think about and I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. This is an excellent post about all the facets of fairness, Leigh. It’s complicated, but I agree with you: “I believe we all ‘win’ when we seek to better ourselves and others at the same time.” Amen to that ๐Ÿ’œ

    1. Thank you Hot Goddess for your comments and for always encouraging me. So glad for women like you who aren’t afraid to work on the “complicated” stuff! Sending love!! Leigh

  2. As usual, excellent post Leigh, with lots to ponder and apply. Fairness. I watch my grandchildren wrestle with this concept and what I notice is “control” seems to have a leading part in the argument. If you don’t do what I want, or how and when I want it, that is where the struggle lies. I hear “you’re not playing fair,” when in actuality someone is not doing something the way they want. Adults are the worst in my experience because the kids move on but the older we get the less flexible we become. I’ll be considering your thoughts this week and seeing how it plays out in my life. Hugs, C

    1. Oooh so observant Cheryl! I agree that even as adults, our interpretation of fairness has more to do with what โ€œsuits โ€œus. Hereโ€™s to being more mindful of our motives and more flexible in our interactions. Thanks for your encouraging comments! Best Wishes always! Leigh

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