Sunday, April 22, 2012

Superpowers 101: Fairness

Kickball was big to my 3rd grade class. I mean BIG!!! We played it all the time at recess. It seemed the future of the world revolved around those games!

I was not good at it. If I managed to kick the ball (and it wasn't a foul) I was usually tagged out because I was such a slow runner. It was only dumb luck that allowed me to ever progress along the bases.

So, although kickball was everything, I dreaded it. It was a constant reminder of my obvious weaknesses. I knew exactly how well each of my classmates could play the game and I knew I was one of the worst.

Our teacher would always choose 2 team captains and let them choose their teams before we left our classroom. Since I was quiet and hated the game I was never chosen as team captain...until one day.

A boy named Terry was the other captain. We stood in front of the class and took turns selecting our teams. Terry went first. I held my breath, certain he would choose the best player. He chose one of his friends who was not very good. I sighed in relief. I was now free to choose the best player for my team.

Terry again chose a friend over a skilled player.  By the time we had divided our class, I was confident that my team would win. I had all the best players. I couldn't understand why Terry had not made any attempt to choose kids who were good at kickball.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. My team put some serious smack on Terry's team. He became distraught with how badly they were losing. He started crying! He wailed about how unfair it was that my team was winning and his team couldn't even get on base!

Our teacher made us switch teams. Now he was the captain of my team and I was captain of his. He immediately started jeering at my losing team. When his new team won, he even had the nerve to rub it in!

This experience has left me with a deeply personal sense of what "fair" actually means.

Terry and I had the same opportunities to choose good players. The selection of the teams was fair. Was it fair for him to get my team because he was such a cry-baby? No.

He could have learned from his mistake. He could have negotiated with me to trade a few players to make our teams more balanced.

Should I have been punished for knowing who the best players were and choosing them for my team? No! I didn't know about my classmates from any secret source. I just paid attention.

In recent years our nation, and even the world, has suffered serious economic set-backs. Many have blamed wealthy people for their misfortune. Are there unfair economic laws in our country? Yes. Are there business practices that are dishonest and greedy? Absolutely. Are their arrogant, snobby, selfish people? Yes! And not all of them are wealthy!!!

But let's talk about fair. If a person works hard and makes a lot of money, should their money be taken from them by the government and given to the poor? Do those who make little or no effort deserve to be given the money of those who worked for it? Is that what "fair" really means?

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