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All Things Being Equal, Nothing is Equal

Equality sxc hu smallLet’s make one basic point. Equality is both an essential truth and a complete fallacy.

“Now, wait a minute, Bub. Equality is the bedrock of our nation… the most noble pursuit in the history of man. Equality is the morality of our new age. It’s right up there with tolerance, peace and the love of kittens.”

Well… I do love kittens, that’s for sure… but positing equality as the bedrock of our society is not the same thing as suggesting that equality actually does or can exist, that equality should be a goal for society… or, more particularly, for the government. Those who are quick to claim that you CANNOT legislate morality are just as quick to believe that they CAN legislate equality.

Now I’m just being obtuse and petulant, I know. I am playing off the nearly complete failure in most dialogue to actually define our words and to recognize that there are competing meanings and intentions behind most of our favorite hot-button terms. Equality suffers of late from a major identity crisis. Too many, particularly public figures in politics and the media, have failed to posit sustainable working definitions for a term that they wish to use as a “Weasel Word”[1] for “… fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”  Obama’s words not mine.

When our founders penned the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” they were not positing a goal, they were positing a truth that needed to be recognized in the way that their new burgeoning nation established and implemented law and legal processes. They followed with “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

So, how should we define equality?

  1. Equality of Value: This declares all humans as of equal worth, equal sharers in the divine image innate to our creation.[2] It is a truth to be recognized not a result to be obtained.
  2. Equality of Process: This deems all humans as equally valued as humans in the eyes of the law, establishing a single set of rules for all, whether or not in actual practice any given individual has the capacity, skills, inclination, or education to make equal use of such processes.[3] Some laws, however, apply only to citizens.
  3. Equality of Result: This considers the artificial equalizing of all outcomes to be the highest moral expression in a society. It calls for empowered third party arbitrators to be given a free hand over the laws and the application of laws in a society in order to counterbalance whatever inequities exist in society regardless of the reasons for those inequities. All rights and freedoms (Property, parental, religious, speech, association, etc)  are deemed to stem from these third party arbitrators and not from any natural law to which the arbitrators feel obliged to honor. This supreme superintendence improves their capacity to craft the desired outcomes of all aspects of social, legal, political and economic interactions.

Any moron can see that there is no real equality in the world. Nature itself has decreed inequality in almost every way. Some are bigger, stronger, smarter, better looking, genetically healthier, more creative, nicer, more driven, circumstantially advantaged, have more productive inclinations, more advantageous personalities, better parents having and providing better discipline, love, and training. People have different ages and different kinds and amounts of experience. People are born in places with better or worse natural resources, enabling or oppressing political realities, individualized or corporate cultural realities, cultural bents and values, more or less accessibility to education, travel, water, food, medicine & technology. Some are born into minorities others into majorities.  Some are born into families speaking more or less popular languages. Some are born males, others females and still others… Never mind, that’s a discussion for another day. There is no actual equality beyond a recognition of theoretical value by dint of being human, being divine image-bearers.

Those who operate with a starting assumption that inequality is evidence of prejudice, discrimination, greed and hatred need to consider the powerful practical weight behind these natural inequalities. The question is not whether prejudice, discrimination, greed and hatred exist, but the degree to which these are appropriate explanations for any given practical inequality that exists, and whether third party attempts to force a solution is or isn’t counterproductive.

  1. What, then, does it mean to posit equality as: A virtue? A goal? A legal standing? A final product?
  2. What is and isn’t a sustainable practical goal for equality? Should our pursuit of equality even consider sustainability and consequence?
  3. How is equality achieved? Should equality be pursued through prejudice against the “haves” and for the “have-nots”? Should it be implemented through the hamstringing of those deemed to have “undeserved” advantages and the “privilege” that these bring? Should we reduce everyone to the lowest common denominator to achieve the moral victory of equality even if it short-circuits the betterment of all?
  4. Should we or shouldn’t we scientifically examine proposed sources for inequalities, and the long term consequences of choices we make in regard to the pursuit of equality?
  5. Does Scripture preach equality? If it does, what kind of equality does it theorize? If not, why not?

These are important questions. Our answers reveal much about the drive behind our politics and social theories and even theology. Too many today have, it seems, virtually absorbed their sense and definition of equality from an environment filled with media waves dedicated almost exclusively to a single narrative.

 


 

[1] Weasel Words are words that people use to manipulate the feel of a discussion. They are terms that carry emotional content that provides an advantage in a discussion for manipulating the way people FEEL about the thing you are discussing. They can carry dark connotations or pleasant connotations. Do the people trust science? Use science lingo. Do the people hate slavery? Use slavery language. The classic example was the attempt to change the feeling of the nation about homosexuals by fostering the term GAY on them. GAY meant happy… now it just means Homosexual. Was it a fail?

[2] Don’t even get me started on those who throw the term “specie-ist” at those who deem human life of more innate worth than animal and plant life.

[3] Angered by this definition, some have put forward a legal doctrine called, “disparate impact.” Any law that has different impacts on various elements of the community are deemed “discriminatory.” Thomas Sowell, The Quest for Cosmic Justice,  pg.152; They claim, “equality before the law without economic, political, and social opportunities is a mockery.” (Margaret Bush Wilson, “Reflections on Discrimination in the Private Sector,” Washington University Law Quarterly, Vol. 1979, pg. 783.

[4] Media pic is from sxc.hu

 

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