Cauldron to Kitchen
Paganism, food and spirituality
What is Fair?
In the essay Photo of boy in public housing with an iPad prompts debate over what the poor should have, blogger Jarvis DeBerry describes the moral outrage expressed by some readers over a little boy occupying himself with an iPad in a poor neighborhood. Further outrage, as well as outrage over this outrage, was expressed in the comments section and reflects the ongoing dilemma of what to do about the poor and our understanding of what is fair.
Jonathan Haidtis a leading expert on human concepts of fairness. “Fairness” is hardwired into our brains, although some people have a stronger response than others. When something seems unfair to us, we take a hit in the amygdala, the part of the brain that handles threat response. Once someone is clear that something is unfair, no amount of logic can over-come the electro-chemical storm that has hijacked their thought process, a process amply demonstrated by DeBerry’s article. Understanding and any application of logic, must come when the person is in a calm state - which is true of any sort of learning.
But how do we determine what is fair? Such determinations are based on our beliefs about how the cultural system works, and on our spiritual beliefs. In his book The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise, Arthur Brooks describes this difference between two economic viewpoints: Definition one: Redistributive fairness. It is fair to equalize rewards. Inequality is inherently unfair.
Definition two: Meritocratic fairness. Fairness means matching reward to merit. Forced equality is inherently unfair.
If we believe the system is rigged, then forcing those who have more to contribute to those who have less, feels very fair. If we believe the system rewards hard work, then taking from those who have worked very hard to achieve what they have feels very unfair. I seek answers to this question in history and in Pagan religion. What answers do you have to the question of fairness and how do you seek those answers?
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