Myths of Equality
Life is not all rainbows and unicorns.
Mythical creatures are cool, but they cannot withstand the crushing weight of reality. Nevertheless, myth has an enduring appeal. Our innocent imaginations are forever reshaping fantasy into political ideals.
Nowhere is this more prevalent, than in the knavish ideals rooted in the myth of equality. So cunning is this concept, scarcely a word is spoken against it. Few ever question its validity.
What is equality? It is a concept that implies sameness in quantity, quality, value, or status. It is a comparative evaluation, the idea of equivalence, of two things being essentially equal or balanced.
Politically speaking, equality is the antithesis of discrimination. The term connotes a sense of fairness, that everyone should get a fair chance, regardless of race, sex, or religious affiliation. Sounds good, right?
Unfortunately, this appealing ideal is inherently flawed.
Equality has become a blanket term that is used to cloak a whole lot of wishful thinking. Can you dunk a ball like Michael Jordan? Can you craft calculus equations like Albert Einstein? Tell me, where is the equality in human aptitude or ambition?
Equality simply does not exist in the natural world. Equality is just an irrational idea, a cute little concept, a lovable ideal, a magical myth in the mind of humanity.
Like all myths, there will be those who insist on its plausibility. But, applying the vice of intelligent inquiry, let’s carefully consider the following fallacies:
Equal Rights, Really?
Questioning the concept of equal rights is like desecrating the holy shrine of liberal ideals. I get it. But, I don’t believe that asking intelligent questions constitutes an act of evil. Do you? My intent is not malicious.
If trash-talking equal rights makes your head explode, take a deep breath and bare with me.
Let’s start with the basis. Let’s assume for a moment, that every person on the planet should have equal rights. Some go so far as to claim there are in fact ‘certain inalienable rights’ that have been endowed by a creator. Is this a solid premise?
What are these rights, specifically? The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Those are arbitrary concepts, are they not? Who gets to define each of these specific rights? What do these rights mean to you, specifically?
What if I disagree? What if I think there are a different set of rights? What if I think that you don’t have the rights you claim to have? Chew on that.
The first problem with the myth of equal rights, is defining exactly what those rights actually are. If all these rights boil down to the myriad opinions of humanity, then we are unlikely to ascertain a definitive list.
Now let’s take the scrutiny up a notch. Let’s assume there are certain rights that everyone should have, say as defined by the constitution. Now they must be distributed to everyone equally. We’re on the right track, right?
To make that plausible, we need to work out some logistics. Let’s assume that everyone plays perfectly nice, and nobody breaks the rules or infringes upon anyone else’s rights. Thus, minimal oversight from some consensual legal authority easily keeps the peace without incident, ad infinitum.
Okay, now back to the real world.
Rights in the Real World
You neighbor stabs a baby because it was screaming all night long. You saw the whole thing, you tell the police, and the lady goes to jail forever and ever… or at least until some upstanding, well qualified citizen decides how and when she should die.
Pause the story. Did you assume the neighbor was a man? Who would stab a baby? Is it humane to cage a person in prison forever? Can capital punishment ever be justified?
Take a moment to notice any emotions you may be experiencing. What are you feeling? Why do you feel that way?
Most of us live lives that are relatively insulated from the trauma of such horrors. But, terrible things do happen. Some people seem to have no regard for their fellow humans. Stealing, stabbing, or selfishly sabotaging the joy of others is not uncommon. It is a frequent manifestation of human behavior.
Keep that in mind, always. Not only is life not fair, but there are people in the world who would do much worse than just steal your lunch money. This is the context in which we must discuss equal rights.
So, how do equal rights play out in the real world?
Let’s pretend the lady baby stabber is a very wealthy woman from Bolivia. She pleads innocent and pays her high powered attorney to make the case of temporary insanity. After all, the screaming baby was clearly infringing upon her right to a peaceful night’s sleep. Plus, the screaming was a trigger for some serious trauma she suffered in her own childhood.
The verdict is in, and she walks away a free woman.
Does this sort of thing happen? You bet your ass it does.
But that’s not really the question. The question is, do you think the woman had the right to stab that baby? Did the lawyer have the right to plead insanity? How about this: Do you think that society has the right to lock her up and throw away the key? Better yet, does society have the right to execute the lady for such social taboo?
The point is that rights are complicated, to say the least. This lengthy hypothetical was meant to pull the assumption of equal rights into the quagmire of human opinion. From here we can proceed with humility.
Anytime we find ourselves in a conversation about rights, it is critical to uncover some basic assumptions:
- How do you define that right?
- Who decides who gets that right?
- How do you handle disagreement?
- How do you handle enforcement?
At the end of the day, any so-called ‘rights’ are really just nice ideas. Rights are concepts that are created inside the conditioned human mind. The same can be said for the concept of “equality.”
While it may be tempting to think of these terms as expressions of social justice, logic should cause us to reconsider. Without a universally agreed upon premise, these ideas amount to little more than passionate opinion. Making any assumptions of equality, or of equal rights, constitutes a seriously short-sighted consideration.
Right, wrong, or indifferent, it does not seem wise to aggressively legislate or pursue regulations based on fickle assumptions. Much wiser would it be to dig deeply into the value of these concepts, to identify a set of common principles that can be practically applied, and to then move forward with logic and humility.
But, unfortunately, that will have to wait for a later time.