July 29, 2010

There is more than one kind of equality

Cross Posted at Left Coast Rebel

"We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal..."

That is a loaded phrase in itself. We can argue the meaning of nearly every word. Whether you believe in an actual Creator or not, it is hard to dispute that we are created. Perhaps a more modern way (although not better) of saying it would be "...all people begin life equal". That is not exactly what "created" means to me but it is an acceptable paraphrasing if creation would offend someone. But what about this "equal" thing.

Equal does not mean "same". Surely no rational person would argue we are all the same. Even when we are first born we are all different. Life is wonderful because of diversity. Anyone who would prefer to live in an ant colony has a bleak outlook at best. So equal does not mean that we look or behave the same. As we grow we become more different. This results in the long limbs and torso narrow waist and broad shoulders that make an Olympic swimmer; the size, musculature, and near preternatural quickness that makes an NFL linebacker; the innovative, questioning, and exacting mind of an inventor, or the compassion and intelligence it takes to become a doctor. With these differences in ability and structure come different levels of capacity for achievement. I will never be an NFL lineman, a great painter, a ballerina, or invent the next iPhone. But there are many things that I am quite good at, and my opportunities are wide and varied, if not actually infinite.

We are not physically or mentally all the same.

Paris Hilton punts burgerNot to burst anyone's bubble but realistically speaking we are not even all born with the same opportunities. If Paris Hilton had not been born a Hilton it is unlikely she would have had a tv show, been in a movie, had a recording deal, or been a fashion icon. If Chelsea Clinton was not the daughter of Hill and Bill she would not be getting married at the old Astor estate. I was born with more opportunity than almost anyone born in Zimbabwe or China. Malia Obama has a much different position in life than any other little girl from Chicago just by virtue of who she is.

So even when we are born we are not equal in actual position.

So we are not equal in ability or position but we are also not equally different:

The range is not all or nothing. It is different by intricate and infinitesimal degrees. A person not born into Paris Hiltons position could very well become more successful or famous. Rags to riches stories still happen here everyday. But what separates Ussain Bolt from Tyson Gay as fastest man alive? Less than Milliseconds.

So in what way are people equal? How can men be equal when they are so different?

Because of our differences in ability and position the only way to MAKE us the same is to treat people differently. To give to some and take from others and, yet, we will all still be different. Because we really cannot give; we can only take.

So if people are born different, have different opportunities by birth, and the only way to make people the same is to treat the differently then how can we be Equal?

By controlling the only thing we actually have control over. Our interpersonal dealings. The dealings of people can be dealt with equally. We can TREAT all people equally. We can do unto others; how we would like others to do unto us. And being that we are not all equally moral or ethical and must create governments to protect the non-aggressive from the aggressive evildoers in our midst then the best we can do is to create such a government where all people are treated equally under the law. That is all I ask for.

To take it one step further we have to decide as a species if we are going to seek material equality (as Obama and the socialists are for) or equality under the law (as the founders were for) because you cannot have both. If we decide on material equality then we must treat everyone differently under the law. And if we choose equality under the law then we will necessarily have to accept differences in material possessions.

And if we choose material equality then we will remove the wide and varied opportunities that now exist to better ones position than that which they received at birth.

It would likely keep the Norma Jeans of the world from becoming Marilyn Monroe, or Elvis A Presley from becoming the King of Rock and Roll; or of Cassius Clay becoming Muhammad Ali. Of course, it would also limit the ability of Paris Hilton to be, well, Paris Hilton.

We can't have it both ways.

-via my iPhone
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