In 1776 as part of the American Declaration of Independence, a triumphant, Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that All men are created equal, a sound-bite that has resonated with the American dream ever since, but is it true?
From the moment of our conception, we are unequal. We all inherit different characteristics from our parents be they physical, propensities for disease or natural abilities. When we are born, we have no say over the environment we are born unto, be it of a Prince or a Pauper, be it in times of war or peace, be it in times of ignorance or enlightenment. These challenges and opportunities shape the way we are able to engage with the world.
Rather than to say we are born equal, it is more true to say that we are born diverse. Diversity is something to be celebrated, not feared. For it is the diversity of the human genome that has enabled us to adapt, survive and thrive in a changing world.
Perhaps I’m being uncharitable to Jefferson. If by equality what you mean is that regardless of race, belief system, gender, ability or sexuality that all should be treated with the same compassion, humanity, fairness, respect, rights and responsibilities then yes, I too believe in this but that is the problem with equality, it’s a subjective word with subjective meaning.
Many groups claim to seek equality but their actions seek to gain advantage for one perceived disadvantaged group over another perceived privileged group. They do not respect the autonomy of the individual and as a result create societies at least as unequal as the ones they loath. Equality for some is not equality at all and in a meritocracy, outcomes will always vary.
Instead of trying to strive for an unachievable equality of outcomes, we should be striving for acceptance and tolerance of our differences. Instead of constant comparison with what we deem others to have had or not had, we should look to how we can enrich each other positively. Life is a rich tapestry and our fates are entwined. We do not live in monolithic identity groups and we should not seek to see ourselves that way.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the cancer of identity politics will only lead to an abyss, however well motivated its intentions are.