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Wednesday, January 27, 2016


On a balance sheet the difference between assets and liabilities is known as equity. In simple terms, it's the amount available once anything owed is deducted from from anything owned. It's what makes a balance sheet balance.

Equity. It's been on my mind lately–not the stuff on a financial statement–but the concept of equity in general. I'm not talking about equal pay, gender roles at home, or even the social injustices of the world. I'm interested in how different individuals perceive, or perhaps approach, fairness.

My husband and I share similar values and agree on most morality issues. (He's probably a bit more pro-capital punishment than I.) But we often take a different stance when it comes to quid pro quo. Case in point:

My husband is an excellent cook. (Meat seems to be his specialty. He's proven his ability to convert a vegan.) I think everyone in the house would prefer him to cook every night. However. He's pointed out several times how this isn't fair. He shouldn't have to cook most of the time. Valid point. So I contribute–mostly during harvest and planting seasons. Despite my lesser culinary talents, I don't have to worry about screwing up, because he's often auditing me. "Did you season that? How much of that did you add?"

But here's the difference between Doug and me. He's keeping a counter. "I cooked the last three meals. You're on to cook the next three. I cleaned the kitchen yesterday. You clean it the rest of the week." (ha ha) Now, I will admit that by the end of harvest season, I'm beyond ready for him to take over the kitchen. But for the most part, I don't keep score. I think I figured out why.

Doug grew up with four other siblings. Everything needed to be divided equally and no one was shown preference. Understandable and commendable. I, on the other hand, grew up as an only child. Sure, I was taught to share with my playmates, but I generally experienced a plethora of attention and received...well...lots of stuff. I know what many of you are saying right now, including my husband. "Oh! Spoiled brat!" But I disagree.

I watched my parents give me things, knowing how hard they worked. Most importantly, I sensed the joy when they gave. Maybe I sensed this from my mom a little more than my dad. Nonetheless, I sensed it. And what's more? I always felt the giving was unconditional. I might've been wrong. Maybe my parents are waiting for me to buy them a swimming pool. And I will. Soon. Because it would make me very happy to give.

Our pets seem to get equity. The cat is entitled to whatever he wants. And the dog just wants whatever the cat has. And they get along beautifully. Just like cats and dogs.

While there are obvious moral imperatives when it comes to the issue of equity ("All men are created equal"), I do believe it's important to understand perspective before judging if something or someone is fair or not. I would also argue if we all quit keeping counters, we might great peace within ourselves.

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