equality, justice, fairness…

earlier today when i thought about blogging i decided against it. my reasoning was that whatever i had to say would just get lost; lost in the noise and the chaos of what today is. so much polarization among friends, family, neighbors, strangers…but then i thought back to the conversation we had last night. what started at dinner as a discussion about colleges and who of the 3 girls would be in college at the same time (phew!) and majors and double majors and even questions about triple majors (if there is such a thing) turned to church, religion, politics, humanity, morality and community. this is not something we do every night or even every week, but it was great! i often forget how different our children have grown up than my husband and i did. until times like last night. “absolute truths” and certainty were a major part of my childhood, and my life at 16 or 17 years old bore little resemblance to the life my children lead. so it’s not surprising that they are a lot more thoughtful about what they believe is true and right. my husband has this quote he likes, “it is a lot easier to rely on rules and absolute truths to define who you are and what you do/don’t do. it is much harder to get up every morning and decide what is right for that day, for you”. ( i am sure that i butchered that, but hopefully you get the idea). we talked about beliefs and where they come from. we talked about morality and what that looks like for different people. we talked about community and connection and cleansing. we talked about love and genuineness, kindness and equality…equality for all.

“equality for all” is really an oxymoron. the very definition of equality is, “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities”. so to say that we stand for equality implies that it is “for all”. we as a society, as a people, as americans talk a lot about equality. and liberty. and justice, for all.  but what does that look like?


equality and justice, though similar, are not the same thing. equality without justice is unfair; at least to one side, but maybe that is the problem. justice is defined as, “the maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims…”. fairness is pleasing all parties involved; offering a solution that is attractive to everyone.  shouldn’t we want justice for all? and shouldn’t that make things fair? if we as people are able to enjoy things equally (justice) why do some feel this is unfair?

i remember when my kids were younger it seemed that i was always hearing, “that’s not fair!”. and so many times what i realized that they meant was this: he/she should not be given the same as me, because i deserve it and they do not! i tried, as a mom, to make things as fair as possible, but as is our nature as humans (especially the tiny humans) instead of focusing on the fact that we have what we need or want, we focus on others who have been given the same; and we feel that they (unlike we) do not deserve it! i cannot count the times i said (say), “why do you care if they have the same thing? what they have, should have no affect on you.” and many times i had to say, “you’re right, it isn’t fair, but it’s still the right (just) thing to do.”

so it seems that we could look at that definition of fairness and say, “well, this must not be fair because although “my neighbor” was given the same thing that i was given, i am not pleased by that and therefore it isn’t fair!” true, but it is just.

this concept of equality and justice and fairness is why i voted the way i did. it is not because i believe that one candidate or party is perfect, or will make all things right, or is some kind of “savior”. it is because i made an informed decision to choose who i believe will not only strive for equality, but justice and fairness for all. and i am beginning to realize that the last one may be the hardest to come by. perhaps we all need to stop acting like the “tiny humans” and grow up! there are so many things in our country that are not just, but when things are changed and the equality we strive for also includes justice, then hopefully we as a society can begin to accept that our neighbor having the same rights as we do is not only right, but it is fair in the sense that we are all pleased.