Sunday, September 5, 2010

Equal versus Equitable

Put two proud, angry and strong disabled people together and interesting ideas will abound. This year I acquired such a person and she keeps saying things that make me think. Fairly fortuitous since I was in need of new blog material.

Here I write constantly about how TABs behave and why for one reason or another it bothers me. It would be easy to have the impression that I want special treatment and more consideration than the average person gives to the average stranger. And, in a way, I do.

When there are 3 kids and 2 chocolate chip cookies, someone must divide them into 3 servings of equal amounts. It is crucial that each child feel the portioning was fair. In life, we often apply this principle to our behavior – treat people the same way and it will be fair. In actuality, that is not remotely the case.

Loading a family's books into a shelving unit, you would naturally put the child's books near the bottom and likely the books interesting the tallest member of the family at the top. Equal would be even distribution of all the books over all the shelves, but would it be fair? Not particularly since shorter individuals would need to climb stepstools. allocation by height and interest is equitable because nobody would need to go to extra effort to achieve the same goal.

When I am isolated in a crowd and feeling invisible, nobody is violating the laws of equalness. They are making eye contact with another person and carrying on a conversation. Equivalent eye contact with me will get them exactly nowhere, so I remain solitary. Having to make additional effort to get my attention creates imbalance, but isn't that equitable?

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