The concept and practice of fairness is defined as the quality of treating people equally or in a way that is reasonable. It is related to the idea of treating people in a way which is regarded as even-handed. Fairness is seen as an important tool which can enable societies to achieve mutually supportive relationships. Fairness is closely related to the notion of Social Justice which is at heart a view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social Justice emphasizes access to resources, equity, participation, diversity and human rights, particularly universal franchise and voting.
Fairness and the notion of Social Justice, though noble, can be quite tricky to achieve when the interests of individuals and different countries are concerned. Can we build societies based on treating all fairly? It is a morally noble idea which is harder to achieve although not unlikely.
The advent of Covid-19 at the beginning of 2020 is a case in point as it brought the idea of fairness into sharp focus. When it was announced that multinational pharmaceutical companies in the West would start working on developing vaccines for the virus, the main concern was whether countries in the developing world would be treated fairly in terms of access to the vaccines. Access to vaccines underlines the notion of the ‘Me first, then You’d dictum, which is at the heart of whether humans can prioritize others before (above) themselves when faced with critical, life and death choices as it was in the case of vaccines.
Fairness is also closely related to the concept of moral judgement and the notion of doing what is right. In the case of vaccines, ensuring that poorer countries have access to vaccines would have been morally fair. Unfortunately, national interest and the profit motive of pharmaceutical companies ultimately won the day.
On a personal level, fairness can be likened to the biblical injunction of, "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you". That in essence one should practice or consider fairness as part of a way of life and how one treats others.
French writer, Victor Hugo had this to say, “Being good is easy, what is difficult is being just". Fairness is associated with that often expresses but seldom practice of playing by the rules and standing up for the rights of others to be treated equally, particularly those without a voice. Covid-19 and the rapidly deteriorating economic situation in South Africa, worsened by the war between Russia and Ukraine has resulted in the loss of jobs and widespread hardship and poverty. A situation that has called on those with means, however limited, to think about we can find a fair way to ensure that the pain of our countrymen is somewhat lessened.