In our modern cultural circles, a hubris arises, and within the context of social order we find people creating paradigms of equality. Sometimes, these consist of economic equality (socialism), or social and economic equality (communism with socialistic economies). The hubris which comes from such day dreams, is a continued approach which determines their efforts will surely succeed in triumph, even though every major attempt has failed prior to now. Their one underlying question, “Shouldn’t we all be equal?” finds enthusiastic ears willing to force an equality of outcome for the purpose of subjective justice. There are few things wrong with this pursuit though. I want to briefly touch on them, so I can put into perspective, equality as an outcome is the most unjust outcome ever deigned as a solution to the problem of poverty.
First, let’s tackle the concept of what poverty actually is, and why “the poor will always be with you” (Matt 26:11). There are sectors of every population, either by circumstance, choice, or condition which remain below an acceptable societal standard for economic subsistence. By choice, they choose to work in a job which pays very little, either because a lack of education, or by societal barriers placed on them from poor choices (e.g. prison record preventing someone from working). At any rate, choice is a factor larger than is capable of describing in many cases. Sometimes, a circumstance, a loss of job or debilitating injury, without a financial security net, causes induced poverty. This again stems from an indirect choice, but ultimately wasn’t the choice of those who succumbed to the poverty conditions. Finally, as a population’s wealth increases, there will always be a poverty level well below and average income distribution, but as the standard of living increases so too will the standard for poverty. Take for instance, the poverty level has increased, in the U.S. for a family of four by over $20k in the last fifty years. Whereas other, less industrialized nations, still have a poverty level below the US 1968 poverty level. So, what does this tell us, subjective standards of poverty as based in the position and placement of local analysis. The poverty stricken people now, live better than the poverty stricken people fifty years ago. This isn’t to imply, charity is going away, but instead to give familiarity to the paradigm of subjectivity to explain the perspective we find ourselves in, in today’s world.
Equality of choice, is a foundational need for every society. The choice of whether or not to seek ambitious desires, to protect one’s life, to speak against injustice and so forth. What culture, all across the world seems to be struggling with is those with and those without, as a means for cultural destruction! It is argued, those who make exorbitant wages shouldn’t, and those who make very little, should make more, but very often when pressed as to why this social manipulation should occur and poor answer is given. Social equality, must be a measure of the choices a society makes in regards to an individual’s choice, for instance, the choice in what secondary education is sought. Perhaps and equality of prospect, in one’s decision on how to grow wealth; in our culture, with a little extra money, anyone can invest what they have, at a risk, and potentially grow their wealth to increase their own standard of living. The key to understand is, at their risk, everything is at your risk. Your health, your wealth, your, faith, and your family’s sense of direction are always at some risk, but this is the benefit of choice, the ability to make a decision which will either benefit or create detriment for yourself and those around us.
Equality is a subjective term, a term which in today’s lexicon, and with it carries a negative connotation, as in the “have’s and have not’s”, but more importantly it assumes an objective authority determines the measure of equilibrium to determine right and wrong. With so many people denouncing traditional methods of objective stances, such as morals, ethics, and societal norms, the landscape is moving rapidly with little or no thought given to such dramatic decisions.
When I was a bright-eyed teenager, set to put the world aright with all of my ideas, I knew the past regimes of the Nazi’s and other socialistic economy nations had failed. Though, the Utopian concept of a “needs” being provided for by the state, wasn’t altogether unappealing. My mentality at the time was one of relativistic ideals, which is to say, I wanted everyone to have what we as a society considered to be basic standards. So, let me stop there and at least give one argument for experience. There is a reason, young people should not make decisions which affect millions, they simply don’t have the experience needed to weigh the decision(s) properly, within the context of life and general experience. The man I was at 28 was a completely different person than the perceived man I was at 18. The ideologies I purported were just simplistic explanations bent on watering down complex issues in order to make them more palatable for myself and the people I talked with. At the end of the day, I was asked a question about perceived rights as they related to the choices we make, in my arrogance, I fell head long, into the trap. His question was simple, why is it ok to take from people who’ve worked hard for their earnings, and give to others who haven’t. Now, simplicity aside, this is what he boiled it down to. A legalized version of theft, and once I started looking at the rippling effect of people taking what I have worked so hard for, because the state said it was ok, is as evil a proposition as using tax dollars to pay for abortions. At any rate, a decision to give our earnings should be ours to make, and the more consistent we are about standards of giving, the more expectation certainty people will have with what they should have and shouldn’t have.
The largest charitable organization in the world is the Catholic Church, but this is overshadowed by the complex and disgusting issues of abuse within the church. However, context once again is key to understanding the whole issue. First, to place equality on all people in the church, and expect all people to act according to the equality of status is silly at best. When one person or a group of people act heinously, is it fair to condemn a church with a church body of over a billion people? Is it fair to hate America because of the actions purported upon detainees at Abu Ghraib, or is it wise to lump an entire group into one contingent, much like I did as a youth with my desire to fulfill ideologies as a means of explanation? The equality comes only in perception of who we are and why we’re here, but this is where equality is no more. Some people are meant to be kings, and some are meant to be the King’s servants, where is the equality now? If a king serves his people as a good steward, is not their life better and are they not capable of being joyful in God?
Equality, seems to be and ideological imperfection, as a result of poorly thought out ideals translated into even worse contextual pitfalls. To say we are equal, is only true when describing the human condition; we are all human, we all seek life and a way to live life which meets whatever expectation(s) we see fit for our lives. This is where equality ends. Some people are born to affluent families and continue the affluent life, passing their wealth on to their offspring and so on and so on. Some people are born lowly and poor, in conditions which neither seem fair nor right. Equality has nothing to do with this, choice has everything to do with it though.
Choice is a confounding and yet simple concept, a choice to do one thing or another can have ramifications which last a lifetime, or the choice of another might be the deciding factor over how we respond to a specific situation. The affluent family may be this way because of the decision by some previous generation helped to foster an increase in wealth and further their affluence, or it could be just sheer luck which allowed for just such a circumstance. The choices of the poor family could consist of poor job choices, poor money management, and in some cases a family unwilling to do the hard work to ensure future generations would no longer be poor. In many cases the results of what we see today in either affluent or poor sectors of our societies are as a result of choices made years ago. Choices which were given to us out of equality, but by making the choices have created two different paradigms. The first being the paradigm of the poor, an inequality is realized because the rich have what is desired, a way to pay for things. The second, is perfect equality, because someone, somewhere along the line, worked hard and put into motion the circumstances laid before the world at the time of the perception. On any level though, taking what is rightfully someone else’s either by inheritance or by choice, is absolutely wrong. Of course, the examples used are not everyone’s opinion, nor are they the only opinion, but they are an opinion which validates those in our culture who wish to right a perceived wrong by committing wrong choices themselves.
The hard truth to all of it is, we may never be wealthy, or celebrated for our contributions in life or to our society at large, and in a world where everyone makes a video, writes a blog, does something to get noticed, it has become harder to achieve a subjective standard which keeps moving constantly. A standard which sets into motion, seeming obtainable measures of success, but at the very same time indicates working to achieve those measures is a matter of opinion rather than the standard. Placing ourselves at the behest of the proverbial mob indicates we no longer want to make decisions for ourselves, and essentially we want someone to make these decisions for us. If we don’t trust the neighbor down the street, who else is there, I bet you guessed it already, the government. A figurative body which seeks to legislate our lives, but neither has an inkling of faith nor cares who you or I are. A body, which is notorious for making poor decision, and a body which creates counterproductive measures of law to restrict the citizens it is making decisions for. For instance, I pay my taxes every year, but I have no way of knowing what my tax dollars are going to. I have no way of preventing further tax dollars from being misused, except by election (there’s your equality), and no matter how hard I try, if my candidate isn’t elected, decision made for me by the newly elected official, may run counter to anything I want or think is correct. My equality comes from the right to make the decision, not the decision itself or the outcome, and in the heightened atmosphere of charged anger and perceived inequality, people now want to force equality on every level, this is nonsense.
If we are to live a life of joy, and focus on the light of Christ, we need to remove the notion of equality from our minds as results are concerned. We have what we have because of God’s Graces. Look at your spouse, your kids, your entire family, and realize without God, there would be nothing. If anyone of us were wrongly convicted of a crime, and nothing we said or did would remove this burden from us, what then do we do? Do we give up on life, or do we work harder? I have never been to prison, so I can truthfully speak to the conditions of the prison and its inhabitants, but at the same time, I can legitimately speak of anyone else’s condition or circumstances. I can only speak of which I know, and every time in my life, where hard choices were to be made, my principles and morals given to me by God, my parents, and my spouse have allowed a resolute focus on God’s love to allow joy to permeate throughout everything I do. Regardless of any shortcoming I seem to meet as a result of another’s decision, I’m not looking to create an equal playing field, I am looking to enrich my understanding of God through the struggles I face. He walks with me in every step I take, he never leaves me, if this isn’t something to be joyous about nothing is.
When we focus on those things in life which actually have some meaning, and matter at the heart of what’s important all the other stuff in life seems to melt away into a trivial pursuit of self. Can’t you remember a time where you were worried, possibly about a loved one, and when you found out they were fine, you realized nothing else in the world mattered at that moment. Not whether, a wealthy person made more money than yourself, or if you didn’t get something you believe everyone else did. Instead, your love transcended your ability to worry about the stuff of this world, and carried you to a place where all becomes clear and allows an embrace of your love with the love of another, as God lifts both of you up.
I hope the pursuit of equality in everyone’s life is a pursuit of love, and a measure of making sure opportunity to love is available, it is the only one which matters as an equal choice in our lives. If you’re ever unsure about your pursuits of equality, think about the understanding needed to perceive the condition of another person, if after you’ve placed yourself in their shoes, walked the miles, and still see a measure of inequality, then love and discernment has granted you a special place to ascend. Always make good choices, and stop worrying about the perceptions of another, except those things which cannot be changed, and know either by choice or by circumstance we’ve all been equally placed in our positions by God. May God bless you, and your family!!!
God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good!!