Survival in a highly competitive and unleveled playing field

Fairness, a perceived notion that people ought to be treated equally or reasonably and not allowing personal opinions of one affects or influences one’s judgement. It is a common concept quoted in many scenarios: university admission, job recruitment, court proceedings, business dealings, elections, promotions and appraisals, and more. Yet, it seems contradictory to find many opinions about the unfairness observed in the exact same scenarios where fairness is deemed to be crucial and vital. As much as it is contradictory, it seems only natural that this is observed given that competition was based on an uneven playing field in the first place from differing income level, cultural background, language challenges, life circumstances and plenty more which, to a certain extent, affect the opportunities that one may have access to.

With that in mind, it is probably not by chance that people around us either find excuses or give “widely accepted advice”. You just need to work harder than others. You can always try again. Find another way of survival. How about considering being a Grab driver? Well, at least you get the second-best options. Do you know that you are already considered more fortunate than others? Seriously, what are these got to do with the uneven playing field that we are facing? Let’s be honest. Is there really fairness to begin with? No, it is just our perception. That could be influenced by many factors depending on whether there is a need to do so.

Humans aren’t stupid. Most of them probably had gotten so used to it that they are no longer “surprised” at unfair treatment and discrimination they may face in the society. Employees who work for their organisations know the unspoken rules of not to “whistleblow” as long as they can endure or they are prepared to lose their livelihood and potential credibility as an employee for future hire. It is just not safe for one to do so. Unfair as it is. One just needs to swallow it in order to survive. Take an example of the recent news on Japan’s overworking problem reported by Business Insider where 37% of the workplaces have violated overtime laws. There were over 1,800 workplaces where employees had clocked over 100 hours of overtime in a month. With that, there is also reasonable doubt that the number could be understated for those unreported incidences. Why do you think these statistics surfaced only during a probe? Aren’t there channels for employees to voice all the unethical and unlawful practices of their organisations? Why do you think employees are not using them? From my working experience, I have met more than five colleagues who had the urge to whistleblow. None of them did in the end. There is too little gain, too much to lose, especially for those who don’t wield any power.

The choices that we are left with are extremely limited. One, walk away from one unfair environment into another which is more bearable and offer you enough to survive and support yourself and your family. Alternatively, you can choose to be an advocate and fight for fairness and equality. It can be improved, but can’t be eliminated totally. Perhaps, you will feel better and fulfilled in doing so. Third, just adapt to how the world is and accept the fact that there’ll never be fairness. What you were taught before (i.e., at home, in schools, at work) are just merely the ideal notion that people have. Or perhaps it could be a means to influence your perception of fairness.

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