The Veil of Ignorance

The war of ideologies plays out on our social media every day: The college coed who has been driving a Porsche since 9th grade complains on Twitter about  how a $15 dollar minimum wage would be unfair to her, the “black lives matter” advocate who no longer has anything “liked” by friends and family on Facebook, or the nasty old troll that spends hours stirring the pot of hatred stew on news commentary each day.

The late American Political Philosopher John Rawls would ask them, “What if you were born into a completely different circumstance? Would you feel the same as you do now?” He published his somewhat controversial thought experiment in his first book entitled A Theory of Justice. Asking yourself the following questions is a great way to check your own biases:

How would I feel if:

  • I was born poor or disfigured?
  • My family just became political refugees?
  • My teenage son was unjustly accused of a horrible crime?
  • My father is labeled the town drunk?
  • We had to collect public assistance after our home burned down?

So, my challenge to you is to stop and think about this before you post your next rant on social media. If you change your mind, you will have achieved the elusive skill of demonstrating empathy.

Further reading:

John Rawls: Justice as Fairness behind the Veil of Ignorance


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