What does the world need? Apparently, Equality.
The word Equality has been greatly bandied about as of late and it has caused me some great distress. It took me awhile to figure out why- but I think I was able to figure it out at least part of the cause. Equality is a perfect cause and an impossible goal- a very deadly, very costly combination. The quest for Equality is destructive, no matter the intent for having set out up on it. Equality wears the raiment of peace, but it is a battle standard.
“Aren’t you being a bit over dramatic?”
I suppose it is possible. But, this topic is far more weighty than anyone can suspect.
One of the greatest lines ever written on the subject Equality was by George Orwell in his profound little book, Animal Farm. “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” The quest for Equality always starts out the same- with a blatant, tangible, recognizable, deeply felt, inequality. When one person or group of persons can easily list or point out ways in which another person or groups of persons has rights or privileges denied to the first group. And to be honest I do not blame them for wanting correct that status- for I do not believe that any one person or group of persons has any justification in declaring themselves superior and entitled to rights and privileges denied to others.
In the case of Animal Farm the Animals felt that Farmer Jones held the most desirable rights and privileges denied to them. If only the Animals could attain those specific rights and privileges then they would be equal to Farmer Jones.
“Wasn’t Farmer Jones supposed to be an oppressive monarchy that needed to be overthrown?”
Actually, yes. But you cannot be oppressed if you are equal to your opressor. America is the land of the Free. But even here there are apparently oppressors who deny others Equality. And well I’d say that Farmer Jones is just as good an example of these oppressors and the Animals just as good an example of the oppressed as we can hope to find. Now, where was I? Oh, yes.
The battle for Equality is dangerous in that desired Equality is defined by the deepest felt lack of one as compared to the most apparent abundance of another. This definition is too narrow to be true Equality. But it is this definition that too often drives the quest for Equality giving it destructive power.
“There you go with the destructive talk again, explain please.”
For starters, the establishment of Equality always requires the doing away with the privileged party. Equality cannot be unless those who are More Equal are no longer- not no longer More Equal mind you, but no longer period. Now this may be a bit Machiavellian- but like Orwell, Machiavelli seemed to be a bit more attuned to the truth about Human Nature.
“O, come on! Dear, haven’t you jumped the shark a bit?”
Hmm, I don’t think so. When the Animals rebelled, they ran Farmer Jones off. Farmer Jones was not allowed to stay. Why? Because Farmer Jones was a Tyrant! He was an Oppressor and everyone knows that an Oppressor will not suffer being Equal to the Oppressed. Farmer Jones would continue to fight the Animals. And whereas I don’t blame the Animals for wanting Equality, neither do I feel that Farmer Jones is unjust in fighting back. When Equality becomes combative, the Farmer knows what is coming. It is the Farmer versus the Animals. It is no longer about giving concessions of shared desired rights and privileges; it is about taking everything to ensure that privileges are the unchallenged property of the Animals.
“Surely, you cannot mean that today’s cultural climate is subject to such arcane philosophy?”
Okay, let’s say that they work out a truce. Though we are not given a scenario in which Farmer Jones consents to let the Animals be Equal to him and they let him stay, I imagine his stay would be short lived. Old habits die hard, you see, and I am not just talking about the Farmer’s habits. The Animal’s habit of perceiving themselves as inferior won’t disappear so long as the Farmer remains. ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ are self-assigned identities. So long as a single individual believes himself to be an ‘Us’ and another to be a ‘Them’ the problem of Equality is unsolvable. As such, the Animals think that Farmer Jones still thinks he’s more superior and is biding his time to overturn their truce. (And, he may well be. Then again he may not.)
So, what to do? Why not make sure that Farmer Jones knows he is equal? Why not make Farmer Jones sleep in the pig sty and the Animals live in the house? That will ensure that they have attained Equality. Right? Even should all the Animals move into the farmhouse and the Farmer be left in the squalor of the pig sty, Equality has not been achieved. The only thing achieved is role reversal. And guess what? Now who has the right to fight for Equality? Farmer Jones. So the Farmer’s gotta go. Because as long as there is a Farmer, there will never be true Equality. As long as there is an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, Equality is not possible.
“You know, you may be onto something. We should stop viewing one another as ‘Us’ and ‘Them’.”
As beautiful a thought as that seems, it is no more beautiful than it is possible.
“What is wrong with you? Seriously, do you need a hug?”
Sure, I’ll take a hug. I like hugs. On my terms usually, but I do like them. Anyway, my reasoning for my above statement starts with my belief that the a large part of the beauty of the Human Race is our individuality. I am an individual. I am unique. I am different, separate, and apart from you. Just as you are unique from any other person you encounter. I am me. You are you. He is him. She is her.
“And together we are ‘We’.’ We’ are the world. ‘We’ are one.”
Um, hang a minute. ‘We’ isn’t a singular equal entity is it a collection of multiple separate entities. Don’t lose sight of that. It is important and, to be honest, foundational. If ‘We’ were a singular entity then the world would be a boring awful place indeed. You see if ‘We’ were one, there would be nothing to learn, nothing to create, nothing to explore. ‘We’ would exist in a void. Personally, I already struggle with why I am still alive on this planet. If ‘I’ was only a ‘We’, I certainly wouldn’t see a reason to live. Except that ‘I’ wouldn’t even know to question my existence. ‘I’ wouldn’t exist- only ‘We’ would exist with no ability to question anything because ‘We’ are everything. This is the greatest pitfall of eliminating ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ for a collective, equal ‘We’. I’ve seen this movie. Read the book. Went to the art exhibit. I even took a class on this topic. You know what the bulk of the content of those were? Breaking free of that non-existence and establishing a world where ‘We’ is a collective of ‘I’s.
“I hate to interrupt . . .”
No, you don’t. If this were a verbal exchange and not a written flow of thoughts I would never have gotten this far. But, please. For all intents and purposes this is a conversation not a lecture. Speak your mind.
“Yes. . . Well. . . As I was saying, I don’t see the virtue in a world full of people who only believe in ‘I’. Me, me, me, me, me, is only tolerable in an opera.”
“I’m sorry. You what?”
I agree. I never said this was a debate either.
A world full of only ‘Me’ would be insufferable. And yes I am aware of the rather humorous implication of that sentence. Trust me I am not ignorant of how awful the world would be if I was the sole definition of ‘We’. (Shudder) We’d be right back to a pointless existence.
“That’s bit harsh old girl.”
Truth tends to be so.
Do you want to know what I think makes existence not only have a point but even be pleasurable? It is ‘You’.
“Well, I am flattered. . .”
Well, not just you, it is the existence of ‘You’. ‘You’ as in someone other than ‘Me’. And despite my introverted nature, I find that the more of ‘You’ there are the more beautiful and wonderful this world is. (So long as I don’t have to deal with all of ‘You’ at the same time. Or one or a couple of ‘You’ for more than an hour at a time. That is part of what makes me, ‘Me’.) I think that the more my life is about ‘You’ the more fulfilled ‘I’ will be. And if more than one of ‘You’ were to feel the same then ‘We’ would be a rather fulfilled and harmonious bunch.
“So, getting rid of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, is about making ‘Me’ more interested in all of ‘You’ so that ‘We’ can live in harmony. I can get into that. We should start a non-profit. Spread the word.”
It wouldn’t do much good. I think I’ve managed to scratch the surface of why abolishing ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ for a collective equal ‘We’ is far from a beautiful dream. But don’t forgot I also said it was an impossible dream.
“I am beginning to think you are impossible.”
You aren’t the first and most certainly won’t be the last. I get that a lot.
“I wonder why. . .”
Just so you are aware, I am fluent in Sarcasm.
Let us return to the “Animal Farm” as it was renamed after the Animals gave Farmer Jones the boot. At that time the rule was “All Animals are Equal”. And why shouldn’t it be? There was no more ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ because ‘They’ had been ousted. And everyone knows ‘We’ are Equal.
This is where the ‘impossible’ part comes in to play. ‘We’ are not Equal, because as previously established, ‘We’ are not a single entity. So long as there is any individuality, Equality is but a mirage. Without a ‘Them’, ‘We’ devolve into ‘Me’. And given enough time ‘Me’ grows into ‘Us’. And the existence of ‘Us’ automatically presumes the existence of ‘Them’. At this point Human Nature kicks into full gear and ‘Us’ is better compared to ‘Them’. So naturally the rule must evolve to reflect this new enlightened point of fact stating that, “All Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
“Well, that certainly escalated quickly.”
Surprisingly, so. Though we shouldn’t be surprised, it is a pattern that has played out over and again throughout time. I will concede that globally we are closer to the idea of Equality than ever before. People a world away from one another live in community. Members of every tribe, nation, and gender sing the anthem to the world that “‘We’ are one”. And it terrifies me how close we are coming to making that idea a reality. “We are one” is an ideal built on the ruins of individualism. And ‘We are Equal’ is an ideal used to placate the masses into being okay with that travesty. Orwell got that too, just read 1984.
“Well, you are just a ball of sunshine. Have you considered medication for all this depression you are spreading around?”
I’m on my meds. Thanks. And perhaps I did spiral a bit there at the last, but I am not trying to be depressing. I just want people so “slow their roll” in their enthusiasm about Equality. I want those who cry for Equality to stop and think about their actions during and after their revolution. I want ‘Them’ who support the revolution of ‘Us’ to be aware of their own future. And that goes double for the ‘Them’ who stand in staunch opposition to ‘Us’. There is an aftermath to the battle for Equality, and it is has yet to be Equality for all. I want people to pause long enough to pay attention to how the stage is being set for the next act. Because looking ahead I see a cost coming many do not even suspect, be they ‘Us’ or ‘Them’. As it stands, Equality is not being offered as an olive branch. Equality is being raised as a battle standard and battles have tolls. And even as I write these words I know that they will fall on deaf ears. Because there is too much anger and hatred between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ to even entertain the idea that there should be compassion for one another. . .
“Sounds like you’ve given up on this world.”
“You can’t be serious. You truly believe that there is no hope for us?”
Oh, I cling to Hope.
“So maybe there is an answer to your hypothetical conundrum of unattainable Equality?”
Yes. It lies in changing our answer to what it is that the world needs. What world needs isn’t Equality, it is Grace.
“So the world needs to be less clumsy?”
Wrong definition of Grace.
“I know I was hoping to divert the coming sermon.”
I don’t plan on preaching. But you can’t tell me you stumbled on this without knowing who I am. You did? My apologies for being so rude. I am a Child of Grace and I am honored to meet you.
“Ok. Clearly, you are crazy. Though, I can see your point. And I know I will regret asking- but why is Grace needed over Equality?”
Because Grace, true Grace, is the great Equalizer.
“So we achieve Equality through Grace? Um, aren’t you contradicting yourself here?”
No. Grace is the sufficiency where we are insufficient. And we are all insufficient. Nearly every philosophy and religion agrees on that point. And many of them suggest that we can become sufficient through our own effort. But let’s be brutally honest, can we really? Our individual Insufficiency seeks refuge in Communal Insufficiency and Communal Insufficiency strengthens itself by becoming the dominant form of Communal Insufficiency. And these Communal Insufficiencies warring for dominance is tearing our world apart.
“So we are Equal in our insufficiency?”
You are totally hung up on the concept of Equality.
“Well, this is a treatise on Equality is it not?”
Yes- but note the title of this post. Insufficient Equality. There is no Equality in Insufficiency. Though, I did entertain the idea for a while.
“Insufficient is Insufficient.”
Perhaps. But how do you define Sufficiency?
“Being a good person. Abiding by the Golden Rule. Not being a jerk.”
Even by that definition every individual becomes unequal in their insufficiency. How does one be a good person? What qualifies you as a jerk? And before you try to give me a definition, just realize that whatever you say there will be those who are more insufficient than others according to your definition.
“You are starting to get on my nerves.”
Wow, that has to be come kind of record. Usually I get on a person’s nerves long before now.
“Then I must be less insufficient that others.”
Touché. And congratulations, because you are right.
Shall I wrap this up?
“Yes, and skip the fancy bow.”
Equality is the perfect cause. Yet, Equality is a battle standard, not an olive branch. And the quest for Equality is destructive. For Equality is an impossible goal. We can’t even be Equal in our Insufficiency. But Grace is the Great Equalizer. Because no matter how varied our Insufficiencies, Grace is our Sufficiency. And Grace is something outside of us. It is not born of ‘I’ or ‘Me’ or ‘You’. It is disarms ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ without lumping us into a generic ‘We’. Grace creates something so much bigger; it creates itself inside of each of individual. And since I promised to skip the fancy bow, Grace has one source. You aren’t going to like it. Then again you may already know what I am going to say. Grace is Divine. It is a trait of God. It was extended through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And it is born in our hearts of the Holy Spirit.
You can write off this off as personal opinion. But think about it, if you are dead set on achieving Equality, Grace, Sufficiency in something beyond ‘Us’ and ‘Them’, is a good place to start. Because ‘I’ am not equal to ‘You’ and ‘Us’ is not equal to ‘Them’ but Grace is greater than all.
That is why I am a Child of Grace. I have been given Grace so that I can give Grace. Not because of ‘Me’ or ‘Us’ but because of ‘Him who is greater’. And I offer you Grace- so you can find Sufficiency in your Insufficiency and pass it on to others. (That isn’t being judging- I am the most insufficient of anyone I know.)You don’t have to take it. You don’t have to believe a word I’ve written. It is your free will, a gift of God by the way that insures we do not become the zombie lump of ‘We’, to walk away and think me a fool. I am a fool. A fool saved by Grace. And you want to know a secret- my life is so much better because Grace has filled it with Love for ‘You’. And Love is so much more than achieving Equality. Love is the road to achieving perfection.