I was talking to my dad yesterday and somehow we landed in the topic of things that are wrong with this world. We often do that. This particular time we were dwelling on the topic of equality. He was going on about all the things that were wrong in the world, about gender inequality and how that was still such a major issue globally, and he ended with saying that he was not convinced that it was even possible to reach a state of total equality. I was listening to his rant, feeling a certain sense of pride because my father hasn’t always had these views, ten or so years ago he would never have talked about this, let alone in the kind of fairly nuanced way he was doing now, but that finishing statement made me think. Is it possible to reach a state of total equality?
Equality is of course a term that needs some definition, as is the case with most concepts that are used in a political context. A dictionary will tell you that equality means “the state or quality of being equal”. But in a political context there’s a bit more attached to it than that. Different aspects of equality if you will. The most common being gender, race and social. Essentially it has to do with perspective, what you see as the bigger issue. But does that really make sense? Can you really grade it like that? I am fully aware that this has been discussed at length on various arenas and that there have been countless texts written on the topic, but if equality really means the state or quality of being equal there are a few things we must assume regardless of what perspective we choose. The first thing being that we believe in the fundamental value of life. That all humans have equal worth. Unfortunately that view hasn’t exactly been that widely embraced in the world. And just to be clear, I am not talking about countries in what we like to refer to as the Third World, at least not only, I am actually talking about the global perspective. We don’t actually have that view globally. None of us. So I suppose that would be the first step we would need to take.
But regardless of that, I’m still not sure it actually makes sense to box it up in those categories. It does to the extent that it focuses the discussion on the issue at hand, but at the same time one can’t exist without the other. Essentially, if we say equality we must be talking about all categories, because if we fail to reach the target in one area we automatically fail in the others. Or to put it differently, it’s not actually possible to claim that we have social equality if it doesn’t apply for all races and genders. And if we really want to be correct about it, we could also say that today, in our global village, the one thing we’re having the most issues with is the gender equality. That’s the category that just seems to transcend the other two, because if you compare within the various racial and social groups, being a woman is always equal to getting the loser hand at the table. Regardless of where you are in the world or in what position in society, being female always means you get the shittier deal. Sure it sucks to be black in a lot of places in the world, maybe in most, and it sucks to be poor regardless of where you are, but it sucks even harder if you also, in addition to this, happen to lack a penis. And that’s just fact. We can pretend we don’t know it, we can try to debate it, but we actually do know it. And we have known it for a long time now.
So this whole equality thing, is my father right? Is it actually not possible? I’m not sure. But what I do know is that we do have quite a bit of mental debris that we have to get rid off before we can even begin to debate whether complete equality is possible. A lot of what we usually call prejudices. Such as attaching certain character traits to individuals from certain groups based on nothing but them belonging to the group in question. Because seriously, we know that black people aren’t less intelligent than white people and we know women aren’t less intelligent than men and we also know that your social background actually only determines what opportunities you get, not your intellectual capacities. We actually know this and anything else is just clinging on to ignorant prejudices. But maybe that’s actually the real problem, the prejudices.
I know that predictability is something we need in order to make sense of the world, but I think we have taken it a bit too far. As in way beyond the point of reason. We have taken it so far that we have converted our prejudices into truth and any self-fulfilling prophesies that result from them we take as absolute proof of their validity. We’ve messed it all up.
And that’s what I was thinking as I was having that conversation with my father, that essentially it’s just about getting it straight. That’s all there’s to it. If we could just get rid of all the prejudices clogging up our brains, we would realize that the only thing that actually makes sense is equality. That’s it’s actually just about getting some fundamental reason back, some order. It’s about sorting shit out so that it at least makes some fucking sense. Because that’s actually the main issue here, inequality just doesn’t make sense. Not one bit. There is no logic to men owning 99% of the worlds assets, there’s no logic to colored people being poorer than white and there’s no logic to having your social background determining your chances of getting an education. There just isn’t. And we all know that. So equality is actually nothing more than us finally getting a grip and sorting out the mess we’ve made of this planet of ours. About getting some order and logic in place. Just sort it out so that it at least makes sense.
And that’s also what I told my dad on the phone, that it wasn’t even about total equality, that it was just about sorting shit out so that it at least makes some fucking sense. He agreed. And in a way it sort of gives me hope, because if my relentless stubbornness and refusal to shut up about my observations has led my dad to embrace these insights in his world view, it must mean that it’s actually possible to sway people, to make them understand the connections. And maybe it’s actually possible to change the world. I would like to think so. I would like to think that we are actually capable of sorting the shit out.