In his book, A Theory of Justice, the political philosopher John Rawls proposed an idea for creating a better society. He imagined a new social contract, one designed from behind a “veil of ignorance,” where the designers are kept unaware of the position they will occupy in the society they are to build. This allows them to approach their task free from the biases of personal self-interest. They do not know if, in this new society, they will be born gay or straight, white or a person of color, privileged or lacking money and social clout. This way, they will have an incentive to build a world where all can thrive.
Unfortunately, we have fallen far short of Rawls’ vision, and our health has suffered for it. Far from being designed from behind a veil of ignorance, our society is one where entrenched, unearned privilege gives advantages to the few, at the expense of the many. In the US, the richest one percent of Americans now live between 10 and 15 years longer than those at the bottom of the economic ladder. Americans whose skin is not white or who are LGBT are likelier to face bigotry, exclusion, and poor health than those who do not share these characteristics. And, as the #MeToo movement has shown, our society has failed to prevent endemic sexual harassment and abuse.
Read the full piece at Fortune.