As a business facilitator, I diligently work toward understanding and more effectively communicating with the post-boomer generations. I have also lived the painful transition from racial discrimination and gender bias to, what I believe, is a society where there is truly opportunity for any citizen to reach their greatest potential.
When “leveling the playing field” was in vogue, I used every opportunity to point out that there is no such thing as a level playing field. Even in sports, although the turf is level, skill, training, opportunity and burning desire creates the best of the best. Being clever and tenacious causes those who can’t even see the level playing field to climb the highest mountains.
Recently, I have been studying the newest fad in terminology, fairness. I am really having a hard time understanding what the citizens and politicians who are promoting fairness really mean. So, I look to the dictionary as a starting point in my research.
Noun- the state, condition, or quality of being fair, or free from bias or injustice; evenhandedness:
That definition immediately takes me back to the successes we have accomplished in equal rights and non-discrimination. “Free from bias or injustice.” To me, that is a clear definition that anyone, from any background, with any ethnicity has the opportunity to achieve their greatest level of success. Not the right to success.
I grew up on the mean streets of Brooklyn in the 1950’s. I overcame the obstacles of poverty and environment and became a member of NASA’s Mission Control Team during Gemini and Apollo. Whatever bias and injustice was in my path was trampled down by my tenacity.
So, how has the term fairness morphed into, what appears to be, redistribution of wealth? “If he has it, I have the right to have one too.” Is that who we have become over the last few generations? It isn’t fair that there are wealthy and there are poor people living in the same city?
Is it fair that you live in a tenement and are on food stamps? Your road to becoming employed and working for your living is a very difficult one, but there are no biases or injustices that cannot be overcome by pride, tenacity and accountability. Taking money from those who have worked hard for their savings and giving it to others with no incentive to become self-sustaining is certainly not FAIR!
Next time you hear the word “fairness,” please challenge the person to define it. If they are looking for opportunity to advance, show them a path. If they are looking to redistribute wealth, tell them that is called Socialism and has never, ever, worked in any civilized society.
Tom Taormina has written 12 books on business process excellence and leadership. He is a long time resident of Northern Nevada.