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fairness

Last week I was speaking about rights and freedoms to a high school law class. I asked the students if they could think of any laws that had changed in their life time. They knew that the alcohol limits for driving had changed. But when it came to changes that had brought about legislation against racial, gender, and other discrimination, they had to be reminded or even simply informed.
Like most religious minorities in Quebec, I am only slightly shocked by the proposed charter of values. The people that at the short end of the proverbial legislation stick are kids. Because our kids will live the rest of their future in the shadow of the laws and governments we support, it is imperative to consult them. So I decided to put my ear to the ground, and asked my youth group girls and their friends what they thought of the Quebec charter of values. Here are some reactions by girls age 12-16, all from different backgrounds and religions.
The darker girl's mantra: stay out of the sun, don't tan, and use this homemade concoction to fade your skin colour. Unless you're born fair like Aishwarya Rai, you've likely been subject to some version of this growing up -- but the Dark is Beautiful campaign is working to change this.
It's obviously troubling that a small number would use the disaster as an excuse to loot; to violently steal another person's possessions, cause damage and inflict even greater misery on an already suffering community. But is price gouging really at all comparable to looting? I'm disappointed not that price gouging is occurring, but that it's only been isolated.
If we want our own children to learn to be courageous defenders of rights, we must first engage them in thinking critically about those rights. While adults may feel uncomfortable talking to children about the place of religion in society, we can still teach our children that people whose beliefs and practices differ from their own are deserving of respect and understanding.
Growing up I remember my mother carefully cutting the pie we were about to enjoy for dessert in precisely equal portions served on plates exactly the same size for all. Even upon the setting of the dessert in front of each of us kids, there was always the fleeting scan of each set of eyes around the table to make sure that no one was getting an "unfairly" larger portion.
Simple game theory shows that the drive for perceived "fairness" in outcomes can leave players much worse off than they would otherwise be if they could swallow some of their pride.