Being Fair can mean getting the short end of the material stick

One of my daily goals and challenges is trying to remain “fair” in everything I do. It’s no easy task; trust me. We all have different definitions of what it means to be fair. For me there is only one litmus test. I need to first imagine myself in the other persons shoes and think about how I would want to be treated under the same circumstance. Only then can I determine what action I should take that will constitute an act of fairness. Often it is a tall order because for me “fair” is about leaving a little more on the table and not necessarily being “all even” when the dust settles. Why? Because with that decision there is no chance of being unfair and it’s a personal test of my character. A recent example of  a test to this mantra was when I had to sell my car to raise some much needed capital. In order to be fair out of the gate I set a cost lower than any advertised price for the same car anywhere in the market. One week later I had a buyer ready to go. He wanted me to lower my asking price but I explained I did that up front and I shared I had already planned on servicing the car before delivering it to him but the price would not be impacted by the work. The next day when I went to the dealer to have the work performed I learned it would cost me $1500.00. I had expected a bill of around $1000.00 but the extra $500.00 was a shock. This left me considering a bevy of options. I could add the new charge to my asking price and explain I had no choice; I could eliminate the extra recommended service and not have it performed and I had the option to just proceed as I told my buyer initially and cover the expense and take the loss. I can share I wasn’t happy. In fact I felt like I didn’t deserve to loose the money. I really needed it and I started second guessing my decision to list the car fairly in the first place. I wasn’t terribly upset about feeling “unfair” and selfish even though I would have preferred that my character would have gleefully taken the high road and just dealt with it. Instead I had human misgivings but I had to decide whether to have the extra service performed or not. In the end I made the call to leave the money on the table because my will of decision had the power to overrule the ego of my feelings.

If you are like me you might be tempted to imagine that doing the right thing should benefit us in some way; but my experience is that if and when it does it is not usually something we can put our finger on in a relative perspective. “What goes around comes around’ is a fun ideal and “good karma” has a comfortable ring, but sometimes there just isn’t anything you can see or feel that actually occurs when you truly act fairly. Sometimes you might just be left with an egoistic sense of loss and you have to struggle a little to be happy with your choice to put someone you don’t know first. For me I take solace by imagining that it’s my turn to deliver the karma and not necessarily be the recipient of it. Philanthropy is like that. Sometimes giving to a cause and not receiving anything back for being fair can be hard; but if we don’t reach out and take the short end of the stick every once in a while humanity will surely be left holding the bag.


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