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Life isn't fair. We all know this nugget of wisdom, and have had to deal with that fact since childhood. Does it mean that we don't need to strive to be fair? Of course not.
Fairness itself is a complex subject, so we have to determine what fair is before we determine how we're going to try to BE fair. Fairness, as I see it, is giving everyone an equal opportunity for success or failure. Using this definition of fairness, the best way to ensure it is with rules that are followed equally no matter who breaks them.
This of course is a bitch when it comes to dealing out punishment to someone whom you greatly respect, or, worse, when someone you respect has to punish you. :) That having been said, everyone must respect the rules in the interest of fairness.
So now we've got a great system that works perfectly... unless the rules are unfair, then it's all shot to Hell. So we must take care that we have as few rules as we can stand (to help reduce the chance of unfair rules). We must also be REAL sure our rules are the right rules, so if someone questions our rules, we must be open to listening to their questions (and if it's a question that's already been answered, let them know the answer we came up with before). If someone has a question with the answer, it can be reviewed (we don't all have to accept every answer we agree on), but in the case of a dispute between equal positions, authority has its reason to exist, so that if it is wrong, a scapegoat exists for the choice that was made. :)