Is there such a thing as equality in nature? No. Equality does not exist in nature, and it can’t. On the contrary, there must be diversity in nature, meaning dissimilarity, inequality, and all sorts of contradictions between objects and phenomena. That is what gives the colors and properties that are in nature richness. Philosophically, inequalities are classified as either natural or constructed.
Natural Inequality – stems from differences in age, health or other physical characteristics. Natural inequalities fall outside the domain of justice, for the simple reason that there is no possibility that justice can equalize these differences. While we may acknowledge we cannot rectify differences in intelligence, talent or desire between individuals, we often attempt to compensate for these inequalities.
Social Inequality – is found in almost every society. It is shaped by a range of structural factors, such as geographical location, citizenship status, or cultural self-sorting. Social inequality results from hierarchies of authority, class, race, and gender that distribute access to resources and rights unequally. Examples are income and wealth inequality, unequal access to education and cultural resources, and differential treatment by the police and judicial system, among others.
Nature has made us unequal in physical, mental and spiritual traits. There is a great variety in the world of human, animal and plant life. Some people are more powerful physically than others, and some are more intelligent. This is natural inequality. Natural equality is that which is inherent in all humanity solely because of what human nature is. This equality is the principle and foundation of liberty. Natural or moral equality is based on the fact that all men and women are born, grow, live, and die.
The Conflict – Equality of Opportunity (treatment) vs Equality of Outcome (lifestyle)
The goal of equality of opportunity is to position all individuals so that they can achieve their unique God-given potential. The goal of equality of outcome is to ensure all individuals reach a common standard of living. Equality of opportunity establishes a meritocracy that encourages competition to achieve greatness. Equality of outcome discourages competition and allows people to survive without an incentive to find meaning and live a purposeful life.
In order to expand our analysis, we will assess this conflict in terms of the difference between Equality and Equity.
Equality – is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents, with equal status, rights, and opportunities. It is also the belief that no one should have more limited life chances strictly because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability.
Equity – an equitable society is one in which all can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential. In short, equity creates a path for hope and change.
These opposing forces are championed by the world’s two major political ideologies, which have drastically different visions of an ideal society. Equality is more closely aligned with America’s founding, natural inequalities, liberty, minimal government and equality of opportunity. Equity is more closely aligned with the Global Left, societal inequalities, intrusive government, social justice, and equality of outcome.
Where We Started – Founding of America
America was founded under a unique set of circumstances, which provided the ingredients for the great American experiment. It began in a vast untamed territory without a structured form of government. While new pioneers experienced the wonders of nature, they were also forced to deal with the natural difficulties of life. They had to acquire new skills and find innovative ways to survive, but they also experienced the joys of growing personally and contributing to new communities. Together they built railroads, invented the telegraph and telephone, and found new ways to farm.
The natural desires and characteristics of human beings created a life worth living and built the modern society we have today. Individuals found ways to adapt their individual talents and skills for the advancement of their communities. And communities had to find the best ways to provide security and cooperate with other communities.
While modern Americans have gained much from their ancestors, they have also lost many of the natural joys of life. Our life expectancy is much longer and we live in comfort in the coldest and hottest weather. But instead of challenging ourselves and being proud of our personal accomplishments, many of us are content to simply blame others for our misfortune. As a society we need to restore our sources of self-worth.
A Major Shift in Direction
Since the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, a new progressive ideology has evolved. This Progressive Ideology seeks to achieve a modern form of utopian society in which everyone enjoys the wonders of life without having to expend personal effort or accept responsibility.
With all the advances in technology and comforts of living, Americans are able to refocus their energies on entertainment and acquiring luxuries. And while their expectations of what they are entitled to increases, they still experience a natural need to contribute to a better society. But instead of actually making personal contributions, more people are drawn to activism. They express a sense of compassion by advocating government programs that reportedly promote greater societal equity.
Since the early to mid 1900s, America has been influenced by the Global Progressive Ideology of a welfare state. It began with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, with Social Security and massive new government agencies and regulations. It took another major leap toward Progressivism with Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. The Great Society included Civil Rights Laws and the war on poverty. Our government is now threatening to take another major move to the Left with a president who claims to be the most Progressive president ever.
While these movements and policies have had many positive impacts on the current quality of living, they also come with significant costs. America’s debt and deficit are out of control and unsustainable. The current generation is experiencing a higher standard of living at the expense of future generations. And America’s younger generations are taught to feel entitled, but are not being taught creative thinking skills required to solve America’s future problems.
Where Are We Today?
America has become a hybrid society, no longer functioning as a fully free-market capitalistic economy, and not yet a totally socialistic government-controlled society. The federal government is gaining more and more control over commerce and industry (i.e. postal services, education, transportation, healthcare, agriculture, and now energy). This evolution has been justified because these functions are critical to the well-being of the society and should not be subject to the profit motive. But the government is driven by political rather than rational or economic principles of supply and demand, and thus government functions have proven to be inefficient and corrupt. Our ever-growing government is either funded with increased taxes which increases the cost of living or is borrowed which threatens future generations.
Instead of creating a utopia that is fairer, less stressful, and more equal, we are actually evolving into a dystopia with more welfare recipients and more homeless. Our politicians champion such causes as reduced wealth disparity, higher minimal hourly wages, unions, and diversity programs, but promote policies that exacerbate these negative metrics. As we debate over equality and liberty or equity and social justice, our challenges become more difficult to resolve. We need a different direction with less divisive and better strategic solutions.
In retrospect, we describe life in the United States at the time of its founding as rugged individualism. The American pioneers lived in this vast territory and had to survive on their own with minimal government assistance. Rugged individualism places maximum emphasis on liberty and freedom with minimal concern for equity. The phrase ‘rugged individualism’ was often associated with the Republican party and was scorned by Democrat president Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In modern society, nobody should be forced to live without the basic comforts of life or the chance to achieve the American dream. Americans are extremely compassionate and support a safety net for the truly needy. They support a role for government in administering such programs. This approach maintains a proper balance between freedom and equality (equality of opportunity).
There is an opposite point of view called collectivism, which originated from the works of German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the mid 1800s. Their theories evolved into Socialism and Communism, and into a milder form called Progressivism. These ideologies place major emphasis on equity (equality of outcome) and have little concern for individual liberty and self-reliance. These systems have produced totalitarian governments, which are neither equal nor free. They developed into caste systems with rulers and supporters in the upper class and the general population in the lower class.
Americans must find the optimal balance between individualism (equality of opportunity) and collectivism (equality of outcome). We must resist the forces that pull us toward totalitarian forms of government wherein politicians are the ruling class and the general population is the lower class.
As a country, we must quit spending America’s wealth on free things our politicians say we need. Rather, we must find new ways to generate wealth. We must promote a common effort towards higher standards and restore the values and principles that made America great. We must raise our expectations and begin holding politicians accountable.
As individuals, we need to quit criticizing our ancestors and instead learn to admire and mirror their heroics. We should celebrate our natural diversity and quit trying to achieve a fabricated vision of diversity. We must temper compassion with tough love. We need to quit worrying about being Woke, and begin waking up.
Changing our attitudes will allow us to do great things. Together, we have a chance to achieve world peace and eliminate world hunger. However, if we continue to fight amongst each other as we are now doing, we will have lost the opportunity of our lifetime, and Lady Liberty will weep.
Learning Circle Discussion
The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.
“Equal justice under law” is a societal ideal that has influenced the American legal system and is engraved above the front entrance of the United States Supreme Court building. This concept in also enumerated in the Bill of Rights, which are the first 10 amendments of the Constitution and clarified in additional amendments.
Equality is the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution and the foundation of American society. But since the United Nations 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there has been has been substantial confusion and disagreement concerning what “Equality” means and what are the rights of Americans. This difference of interpretation has led to many of the conflict and related challenges in American society today. If we are committed to forming a more perfect union, we must first resolve these differences and arrive at a common understand of what Equality means in American society.
- What should be the role of government in evening out inequalities?
- Who should be the judge and what should be the criteria?
- What actions are justified to achieve equality?
- When should someone’s rights be violated in order to achieve equality?
- Should popular opinion influence measures to achieve more equality?
- Should the property and savings which people acquired through skill, hard work and risk during their lifetime be subject to redistribution in the interest of reducing inequality?
- What are the causes of hierarchy or class differences natural or imposed?
- What are the sources of wealth in America, and should they be controlled by government?
“I have no respect for the passion for equality, which seems to me merely idealizing envy – I don’t disparage envy, but don’t accept it as legitimately my master”. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.