Fairness and Equality

Sunday November 11, 2007

A few months back, I came up with a profile, well, a profile of sorts detailing the weaknesses of my family. We all bitch and moan about certain things in life, and one thing you’ll eventually notice is that the bitching and moanings correspond to a value that you hold dearly.

For instance, my dad bitches and moans about people not doing things right. He’s ex-HR and an ex-engineering so processes are dear to him. He cares about processes. So I said to him, “That’s your problem, you think people care.”
My mum, on the other hand, is an incredibly creative person who adores thinking up of new solutions. She gets frustrated with people when they sort of just give up when a problem is presented to them. Callously, I said, “That’s your problem Umi, you think people think.”

My aunt once overheard me saying this and asked me what my problem was. “All of the above?” she asked, laughing. I shook my head, no. I’ve thought about my problem for a long time and I’ve come down this: “I think people have ethics.”

Or more specifically, I think people care about ethics as much as I do. I am not ashamed to admit, that I care about political correctness and ethics more than most. Most of my articles that I mark as favourite tend to centre on the debate of ethics, of what is right and what is wrong. I want to do things the right way, morally and ethically because it matters to me, not because it’s the in thing.

When I come across something plainfully unethical, honestly, I lose it. I know it is a bit presumptious of me to behave in such a manner. Why should anyone subscribe to my beliefs and my values? To each his own.

This is where I believe the law and the constitution comes in. We all have various values and various morals that we subscribe to. As an economics and a politics student (lawyers, be forewarned, this is a political interpretation, rather than a lawyerly one), I subscribe to the belief that the law is a set of rules that has been collectively made and implemented by society (or representatives of society, democratically or by merit chosen) to uphold justice, fairness and equality. We may not agree to every law written but we abide by it as citizens and our duty as citizens. Because we believe that there is more to the law than just the written word. The law encapsulates the values of justice, fairness and equality.

What am I getting at? Oh yes, the law encapsulating the values of justice, fairness and equality. When you work with the law, be it as a lawyer, or an upholder of the law, the police, a referee etc, it is more than just the technicalities of the rule that you must abide by. You must imbue the spirit. You must take it in you, function by it and live and breathe it. It is not enough to be seen as acting fair or ethical. You must be seen and act in fairness.

In the wise words of Sam Tyler, as the police, you must be whiter than white, you must uphold the law and do things the right way

It goes beyond the job and the law, acting in fairness. We live by a code of conduct, ethics and morals that are unwritten but is the glue that holds society together. I can always give more candy or more money to my favourite niece over my other nieces and nephews, but is that fair? It’s not against the law but it’s certainly unfair. I am discriminating someone based on my irrational like for a particular child. Wr I can always pop over to Eizwan’s place and start raiding his fridge because his mum told me to make yourself at home. Is it wrong? Yes. Against the law? No.

See where I’m getting at? Ethics and morals, fairness and justice are what keeps a community functioning. They’re not always right and they have to be challenged and corrected. But it is a spirit that must be imbued, cherished and upheld.

When you’re a party to the law, you are the deputy to the law. The end does not justify the means for you. It certainly doesn’t. The spirit of right and wrong has to go all the way because you have to be fair. You just can’t be seen to act in fairness and not act fairly. You can’t get a fair result by acting unfairly. Think Gene Hunt. Is he right to be beating someone into a confession? No. He got results, but he did it the wrong way.

That’s why, I find it ironic when someone in a position of power, like a regulator or a referee starts screaming of the top of her head about abiding by the law when she herself is unable to do so, even in the smallest things. Do you not think the smallest thing matters? Sure you don’t kill, but when it comes to playing unfairly, you certainly don’t mind because it ain’t against the law. Who cares if the spirit of it all is unfair. But does it matter? Oh yes, it does, incredibly. In your arrogance, you forget that if you are unable to imbue the most important value that makes you a wonderful regulator or referee, you lose. People look up to you and society will mimic your own lawlessness. And you scream and shout again, wondering why things never change for the better.

My mistake is losing it when you display your arrogance, berating me for not understanding. It is not I who do not understand. It is you. It is not me that should cower in your awesome anger. It is you who should be pitied for not ever understanding the game in the first place.

Posted 11/11/2007 at 10:22 PM

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