Balancing Any Playing Field Is Always A Messy Endeavor

Jeff Fox
11 min readDec 13, 2022

We all agree with the concept of fairness, in the abstract. Applying it however…

A black carpenter’s level against an illuminated grey background, will yellow liquid in the glass tube and the air bubble centered between the measuring lines.
Photo by Eran Menashri on Unsplash

We all recognize the notion of fairness as a universal and fundamental good. Of course things being fair for all people is a good thing, an ideal. Things get sticky when we start striving to achieve it in real and practical terms. Our perspectives and opinions start to diverge, contradict, and even openly conflict. What exactly is the definition of fair? Is the potential cost too great? What determines who is deserving of those efforts? Who makes those determinations? It starts to get sticky pretty quickly.

Efforts to achieve fair treatment of all individuals within a society are at the heart of all social progress and every civil rights movement. It is part of the core definition of human rights and is at the center of the concept of a democratic society. In autocratic societies run by dictators the notion of fairness simply doesn’t enter into it. People do as they are told and get whatever they get as unilaterally decided by those in power.

In more socially progressive societies the individual’s right to be treated fairly by the powers and systems of that society is the cornerstone upon which all the cultural and societal machinery is built. The entire reason for electing leaders is to ensure representation, and thereby protection, of the many in the governance done by the few. To ensure the governing choices and decisions are formed and guided by the desires and preferences of the general population, not just a privileged few.

No one thinks treating people fairly is a bad thing, even someone who is passionately disagreeing with a proposed effort towards fairness. The objections are not about fairness but about whether or not the notion is being correctly applied. We all agree fairness is a good thing but how to get there can be a tangled and, at times, passionately divisive endeavor. Not because of the notion of fairness but in terms of how and to whom it should be applied.

Whatever the topic or situation there are some standard phases to the process of attempting to balance a previously out of kilter scenario. The process can get stymied at any one of them as they each can be complex, contentious, and resistant to change. Change is always…

Jeff Fox

A professional dancer, choreographer, theatre creator, and featured TEDx speaker with an honours degree in psychology, two black belts, and a lap-top.