American society, at the present time, and for some time, has had a passion for equality. This passion extends to the phrase “everybody is the same.” This phenomenon may, in a word be defined, as egalitarianism. There is a lot of good behind this passion for equality and the egalitarian character of American society which posits and emphasizes that everyone be regarded as essentially equal and given equal treatment as human beings under the law. These few words I am writing will attempt an analysis of what is meant by equality or, better put, understood by the word equality; it will consider its desirability and deficits, if any; and will also attempt to analyze and examine the sources of equality.
Equality is basically a good thing. It is good that people be treated with equal respect, irrespective of their race, sex, appearance, wealth, intelligence or class. It is also good that people be given equal chances and opportunities in society to obtain an education, to advance in the workplace, and to improve themselves materially of in whatever way they may choose. A small minority of people may choose a life of service, as Mother Teresa chose. They are a thin sliver of the population, but that is their choice. They embrace a life of poverty and seek to serve the poor. For others, their choice is to advance themselves materially as much as possible. Others wish intellectual advancement, others physical advancement. A society which offers equal opportunity for all in all categories and respects is a good and advanced society and system. The issue, is, what is the source of equality and what is meant by it?
There are, two sources of equality, or the notion and idea of equality. There is political equality, the fact that in the United States, and in other countries with a parliamentary system, each person has an equal vote, from the billionaire to the pauper, from the illiterate to the writer of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
The idea behind political equality is twofold. First is the belief that the common man is not so common or lacking in insight and intelligence as one might be led to believe. The core basis of political equality is a belief in the wisdom residing in the life experience and intellect of each and every person and citizen. Political equality also has its genesis in the idea that shared power and distributed power is better than concentrated and limited power. Power spread out among the entire voting electorate results in a better society than power concentrated in one person which has historically given rise to tyrannies.
The second reason and understanding connected with an understood in the term equality is spiritual equality. Spiritual equality posits that all men and women are created by God and are of equal value in the creator’s eyes, again, irrespective of their wealth, looks, clothes, outward appearance, weight, class or race. Both political equality and spiritual equality are true but their meaning and point has been extended or in some sense extended too far with the result that equality as a word and concept has in some sense lost its meaning and import.
Political equality and spiritual equality do not mean that all men are equally-gifted in their talents and abilities. There are outstanding classical musicians, outstanding writers, outstanding major league baseball players, and outstanding scientists. The person who do not and cannot achieve these accomplishments in life cannot be said to be equal to those individuals who do. Of course, there may be a reason for this disparity between the greats and the not so great. Perhaps some people have no wish to do that type of thing and would rather have an easier life. Their health may limit them. Their finances and economic status may limit their possibilities. When all is said and done, however, there are talented and not so talented people and I believe the talented people should be given credit and recognition and not be told that they are the same as everybody else. This may be said to be the great failing of a democratic society. Because of this passion for equality, equality’s meaning has been stretched beyond what it actually means, in a way. Equality does not eradicate inequality. Equality should not result in the hammer being placed on every person who stands out. That person should not be told that the great effort he has made in achieving some little thing is and amounts to nothing.
Therefore, I propose that the term ‘equality’ be redefined in the three senses that I have just suggested. Equality as human beings, under God, and in a democratic society does not come to mean equality of talents. I think it is form of envy of the lesser-talented to denigrate the achievements of the more talented. A startling more beautiful woman may be told because of envy and jealously of other women that she is not so beautiful and the people who say that may say they are just as good in that respect. I think this passion for talent equality and achievement equality, or anything that makes one outstanding above another, is a form of envy and jealously emanating from a root desire to say to yourself when you see another who has on some level surpassed you I am as good as him.
How will I end this little product that I present here and have created? I end it by saying actual equality does not really exist and is not to confused with political and spiritual equality. Political equality and spiritual equality should include and accept the infinite variety of talents which may be found and can reside in each and every human being and that we should, rather than hammering down those talents and achievements in the name of egalitarianism accept them, credit them, and reward them.