Thursday, August 11, 2016

Universal Equality (08/11/16)

All men are created equal.

*For all intents and purposes, I will interpret "men" as mankind for the following. This includes males, females, and those in between. No race or ethnicity is excluded. I'm including all ages in this as well, whether 3 years old or 93, millennial or old enough to complain about millennial. (Not that they necessarily should, but that's a topic for another time.)

"All men are created equal." These five words have plenty of history and different interpretations behind them.  In the United States, originally it only applied to white males. Then it spread to include females and different ethnicities. Recently there has been the movement for the term "marriage" to be broadened to further extend equal rights. For the most part, the United States has advanced to political equality for all.

There's still a long way to go, though. Socially, white males still have the advantage. In other countries, females are taken advantage of and are neglected to increase chances for males because that's the custom. Humans are still objectified through the media, especially when a company wants to sell a product by showing off a nice looking female. Many Americans are also still racist, and our culture isn't doing enough to provide enough peer pressure to completely shame the notion.

I'm not a feminist in the respect that the United States needs much more political reform to create equality. Women have the right to vote, and we aren't denied any rights to own property, say what we want, or get equal education. I feel like most of what we don't yet have will mend itself more smoothly over time. Instead of using laws and movements to try to push these social equality issues that mostly need that time to mend, we need to help the women in other countries gain their own political equality. There should be equal opportunities for girls and boys to get an education, and we shouldn't let money be the deciding factor in whether a little girl is forced to work while her brother gets to go to school. 

So if all men (mankind) are created equal, all children should get the same grades and do the same in sports, right? I mean, how can we rank one child above another if the first doesn't work as hard?

We can agree that all humans are born with certain rights that come from being human. If anyone takes away one of these rights from someone else, it's immoral. We all are created socially and politically equal, and we need to fix the brokenness in these systems. But we aren't cookie-cutter humans. Some people are better at math than others. Some people just can't easily play sports, so they have to work harder. We aren't mentally or physically equal.

I played a game when I was younger where you created a character and took her (I'm defaulting to female purely for the sake of pronouns) around town, living her high school life. At the beginning, you were given a certain number of donut-looking point things and told to distribute them to certain categories to show her strengths and weaknesses. 

But how realistic is that? Did God give us all the same overall potential? Could he say, "Hmm, let's see. John, you already have a lot of potential for sports. I guess I'll take one of those to put in your math category because you'll need that later in life. Oh, Anita! I have a few left over for you. Let's stash them over here, though I don't know how much you'll use them,"? It doesn't seem right. But what of the alternative? Are we not all equal? Can one person be gifted with every skill possible and another be given next to nothing?

There is no way to know the answer while we are on earth. You can't just test someone's ability to love or natural sports ability and then compare the differences to determine an overall score. There's also the parable of the talents (bags of gold in NIV 2011) to consider (see Matthew 25:14-30)- if you use what you have, you will be given more. If you let it go, you lose it. Who knows if you had a natural gift for something you never tried that faded with time? (Also see 1 Corinthians 12 and similar sections for connections to spiritual gifts. You should form your own opinion, not take mine.)

To clear this a bit up, let me point out a section in To Kill a Mockingbird (by Harper Lee- please read! It's a little slow at the beginning and contains some mature content, but it's definitely worth it.). It's the big court case, and Atticus is giving his final arguments. He says much of what I said earlier, and then points out the one place where everyone is completely equal, despite differences in money or skill or, as he implies, the color of a man's skin: a court room. All that matters is right, wrong, and justice.

I'd like to take that farther- everyone should be always given equal rights and treated equally. Humans are all humans, and none should be treated differently because of gender, education, race, skill, or appearance. But there's a reason we shouldn't get caught in the trap of comparison and believing we're all equal in all respects- a rocket scientist is probably nowhere near as athletic as an Olympic athlete, and an Olympic athlete probably knows absolutely nothing about rocket science. We'e all part of that court room, and we should treat everyone like we're in that court room, but we can still be individuals within that room with different talents and different views that can be used in different ways to help to body of Christ.

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