Have you ever wondered if treating people fairly means treating them equally?

A lot of people face this challenge. Whether it is within a family, among friends, within a church or synagogue, place of business, we work with others. Very often, one is tempted to think that to treat people fairly, we need to treat everyone the same.

Treat people differently in order to treat them fairly

The truth is that treating people the same is actually the opposite of treating people fairly. It’s bad for you and bad for the people you work with.

If you are a company leader, you have to realize that each of your employees is unique. They come with different gifts and talents and offer different degrees of value to your organization. They produce different results. Compensating them the same would be unfair.  Also, paying the same attention to everyone would be neglecting the individual differences between them.

The same is true for families and friends. For example, I have two kids. Even though my wife and I are their parents, they are very different people with different personalities, preferences, and gifts. Treating them the same will be unfair to them as unique individuals.

A leader cannot invest in everyone to the same degree. Treating everyone the same when you are a leader is a big mistake many well-intentioned people often make. We should love everyone the same.  We should value everybody equally. But we should never serve or treat everybody equally. Leaders must learn to spot people they can mentor and spend more time with them than others. This will enable the leader to groom these individuals for leadership roles.

Another way to look at it is this: Even though we must love every human being in the universe the same and value them equally, we have different relationships with them that dictate how we treat them, interact with them, or serve them. Take for example our children, even though every child in the universe is important and have the same human value and dignity as my kids, we have a responsibility to raise them, provide for their needs, and be there for them in a way that is not true for every other child in the universe. In my early days learning to love, I used to misunderstand this. I used to feel guilty that my children had food when some kids didn’t. I had an unhealthy view of the whole situation. It was good that I had love in my heart for other children and was willing to help. Help, I did, I started an orphanage and it has helped thousands of orphans. Yet, I cannot humanly have responsibility for every child in the universe nor should I try to. Our love must be unlimited and available to all human beings equally. However,  as humans, our ability to treat or serve people well is only limited to a few. Of course, that doesn’t mean that while we take care of our own kids, we shouldn’t make sacrifices to help others.

It’s the same thing with my wife. I should love all women as sisters. However, I must have a different relationship with my wife and treat her differently. The relationship dictates that.

People are different. Your relationship with them is different. Love them the same. Treat them differently.  That is how you treat them fairly.