When it is my turn to submit the Wildflowers Therapy Blog, I am always at a loss for what to write about. It was suggested that I write about something that I discuss with clients regularly. I contemplated writing about “flexible thinking” or “making a plan”, but lately the notion of “fair versus equal” has been presenting even more often than the preceding two. I am always interested in how many people of various ages do not really understand the difference between the two concepts (and that is without adding in the third concept of “equity”).
The concept of “equal” is fairly self explanatory—all have exactly the same. When someone wants to be “equal” it means that he/she wants the same as another. “Fair” is not always the same as “equal”, but it can be. This likely adds to the confusion with the terms. “Fair” is getting what is needed when it is needed. Sometimes, to be fair is not to be equal; sometimes fair is more and other times it can be less (hence the confusion).
I regularly hear that someone should not have an adaptation or receive something different within a family, workplace or classroom because doing so makes something unequal and is therefore unfair. This logic is flawed since “fair” and “equal” are not synonymous in the first place. I strongly encourage that as we move forward into spring that we do not get bogged down into what is “equal” and try to focus instead on what is “fair.” If we do this more people will get what they need when they need it. When people are actually getting what they need in a timely fashion, stress levels drop. Lowered stress levels generally positively impact relationships. When relationships improve, stress levels drop further. (Notice the cycle). The concept of fair versus equal is one that influences overall general well being within families and communities. Personally, I suspect that when we focus more on “fairness” several issues that we face will naturally fall away. I dream of a world where we can ensure that everyone can have what they need in a timely fashion. Please dream with me 🙂
Written by Tara Garratt, Registered Psychologist with Wildflowers