On fairness

One’s sense of fairness is influenced by the unfairness one has experienced.

As a single child, I thought my parents treated me fairly, since I had no siblings that were treated better.

As an able teen in the ’80s, I thought that sidewalks and buildings were well designed, since I had no need for a ramp to access them.

As a white, male, Canadian lawyer with a green card, I thought the US immigration process was well-oiled, since my citizenship application was approved in just a few short months.

Over the years, I, and others like me, learned to trust the process because the process seemed fair. We trusted the process and we praised the process. And our faith in the process earned us the privilege to keep the process. People like me, with little experience of unfairness, are now responsible for creating and preserving fair processes.

If I were disabled, or of a different gender or color, I know that I would see the world differently. My sense of fairness would be different, and my trust in the process weaker. I would long for a seat at the table, to be seen and to be heard by those who hold the power, as well-intentioned as they might be.

Let us get together. Let’s have difficult conversations. Let’s create processes that are truly fair.

It’s the only way to produce fair outcomes.

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