The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

What is Fairness?

Most parents have heard the comment "that's not fair" from their children. Whether it is when we are serving pieces of birthday cake that are not quite the same size, or deciding who will be next to use a piece of sporting equipment or play a video game. It is 'fair' to say, that quite often parents and their children will be coming from different perspectives in terms of how they view these situations.

Our perspective is partly shaped by past experiences, our ability to step back and consider other viewpoints, and our sense of right and wrong. Sometimes the response from a parent might be "don't worry about it", "you got more last time", "just deal with it" or "life isn't always fair". This might be because we are trying to help our children learn not to "sweat the small stuff" and to see things from another perspective. Perhaps we are trying to provide them with small opportunities to build their resilience, or we simply cannot be bothered getting into a discussion about something we see as quite trivial.

However, the children have had a chance to share their opinion or feelings. Feeling heard is obviously something we all value as adults, but we also know it is important to be mindful of how and when we share our thoughts. There may be times when the manner in which we express our feelings may not be appropriate for the situation or company we are in, and we learn this over time.

With everything that has happened with COVID-19, there have certainly been many opportunities to ask if something is 'fair'. Questions may range from a philosophical discussion about the pandemic itself to an analysis of the more detailed restrictions with which we have been living. It is important that we have the opportunity to ask these questions and, while we may not always agree with the decisions, it is also important that we reflect on the reasoning behind them and how we choose to respond.

Comparisons about different approaches internationally, nationally or within our workplaces and schools will continue and that is a natural response. While the impact of these decisions is obviously far greater than the trivial situations I mentioned in the first paragraph, they are all made with the best interest of each community at heart. In working through this situation, it has been admirable to see the resilience demonstrated by so many people and the understanding and support they have offered towards others. Sometimes things are simply not fair but, when faced with adversity on a large scale, people have invariably responded admirably with resilience and respect, and have worked towards a positive outcome.

Perhaps we could all take a moment to consider how we approach the smaller things that happen in our own life, that also do not seem fair.