The Courier

Let’s talk about the notion of equality. Equality, as an absolute principle, cannot be modified.

What is the point here? Well, it means that treating everybody as equal all the time, and in every situation doesn’t always work.

Most of us instinctively know that we are not all “made the same”. Specifically, I’ll refer to knowledge, intelligence, and skills. Not everyone is as equally intelligent, knowledgeable, or skilled, and from situation to situation, a person becomes less helpful or more helpful, as the case may be.

If for instance, you were to go out in a sailing boat, you would rely on a skipper who will not pull the mainsail in too tight, can gauge the wind, and handle the bowline. In other words, you rely on someone who “knows the ropes”! Equality is out the window when practical skills and knowledge are essential.

In other situations, equality of treatment can maintain unfairness. For instance, in a crowd, at a public event, those standing near the back are all given a box to stand on to see what’s going on. This can be called equality of treatment but does not guarantee that everyone will see anything. A shorter person may need two boxes while a taller person may need none at all. Giving a box to a taller person only heightens his or her advantage, and makes a shorter person even more unequal.

Ironically, equality of treatment can increase inequality. Because inequality exists, oddly enough, unequal remedies must be undertaken.

Let’s put this another way, if we want everyone to have fifty dollars pocket money, we may have to give one person the full fifty, and some else twenty-five, and another ten. What this means of course is that somebody will complain that it is unfair because all were not actually given the same amount.

There is a Gospel parable that tells of a landowner who pays workers 1 denarius for a day’s work. As it comes to pass, some workers are hired early in the morning, some at midday, and others quite late in the afternoon. The landowner pays everyone the 1 denarius, and the workers who had been there all day are upset at this equal treatment. None of them, however, had been wronged, as they had agreed to work for the sum that they had been given. It is their attitude that becomes the problem.

At least since time out of memory, people have been envious of what other people have. Whether one has actually worked for it, agreed to something else, or even forfeited one’s right through bad behavior, many of us have the habit of looking at what is on the other side of the fence.

When it comes to equality, let’s try to not set aside truth and kindness.

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