The Veil of Ignorance: Why Society Fails to Mourn Migrant Deaths

Contributor III

"16 dead and 36 injured after bus carrying migrants and locals crashes in Mexico."


"Around 350 Pakistanis were on [a] migrant boat that sank off Greece and many still missing, official says."


"Hundreds of migrants killed by Saudi border guards."


These are just some of the headlines we have seen since the start of the summer. 


Every day, and potentially at a marginally higher rate than we, the public, know of, hundreds of migrants are murdered or have disappeared.


So, unless you're not already thinking about it, I'll ask: why haven't you heard about these things? Why has virtually no one spoken out about these things? And would the reaction be the same had the lives lost been ones that society valued more?


Probably not.


Think about it. 


Say there was a crash on your local public bus route. Sixteen people died and 36 people were injured. In this hypothetical scenario, wouldn't the public empathize with or advocate for those in the crash? Would you hear about this situation in the mainstream media, or would it be barely touched on, like the Mexican migrants?


Let's say that around 350 Americans were on a cruise ship, which sank and left hundreds missing. What would the outcry for that scenario be like? Would it be comparable or contrary to that of the empathy, or lack thereof, for Pakistani migrants?


If any of these questions sparked some thought for you, you may be wondering, why does this happen? 


Well, there are many theories for how individuals cannot feel for individuals we can't identify with, and today, I will explain that of John Rawls: The Veil of Ignorance. 


According to this theory, we simply cannot empathize with people different from us. We can't imagine what it's like to be a migrant. 


Rawls argued that if we put personal experiences aside, we would create rules that benefit everyone, regardless of circumstances. We would want to create a fair society where every person, regardless of limiting factors, has an equal opportunity to succeed.


When we see migrants as fellow human beings, we are more likely to demand action to protect their rights. We are more likely to support policies that welcome and support migrants rather than turning them away.


The suffering of migrants is a problem at the international level, and it is a problem that we must not ignore. 


So, the next time you see a headline about migrant deaths, take a moment to think about the human cost of these tragedies. 


Put yourself in the shoes of the migrants who are risking their lives to seek a better life. 


Imagine what it would be like to be separated from your family, to live in fear of violence, and to have no hope for the future.


We all have a responsibility to speak out against the suffering of migrants. We can demand action from our governments to protect the rights of migrants and to create a more just and equitable world for all.



Contributor III

Truly one to take in and examine oneself. 

What are our thought patterns when we hear or see such news?  Do we even empathize with people we consider different from us?

But it reminds, how can we empathize when the very media that is to highlight, the good, the bad or even the ugly of the world, only focuses on a certain group of people whom they consider to be less than. 

Let's take for example, if a rich man and a poor man both at the same intersection get in a car accident, the media will highlight all the accolades and wealth of the rich man and might only remember the poor man's name. We will get a full 1/2 hour tell us about this rich man and only 5 seconds about the poor.  While leads to migrants, for years the media have painted these people in a negative light and when tragedy struck, we don't see, a mother, a brother, a husband or simply a child, we see a Pakistani, a Mexican, a Iranian. 

Recently, an earthquake shock Morocco, and the news on the ongoing tragic event is still on going. But when countries like Pakistan were faced with the flooring, where did you hear about it? The US news paints everyone who is not from the US as different, a nothing worth mentioning and as such we have a generation of people that is unable to show empathy to anyone other than those they know. Our heart does not grieve for a child that is not our colour or creed. As we forget the simple message of "love thy neighbour as thy self". But how can we love, show empathy, care or even hope when to ourselves their is none. 

Maybe its time we start seeing others as simply human instead of a Pakistani, a Mexican, an Afghanistan. Because we are all human and the fact that we fight for a better life in another country, that country can be US today and Pakistan tomorrow. We don't know where we will seek refuge too because we don't know who the new world power will be. Power always change hand, history tells us this. It's out attitude that makes the different. Let our character be one of empathy and care and humanity.