Hello and welcome to Reality Check.
Hi, I’m Mark Pellegrino and today I’m going to talk about equality.
When our founders birthed this nation into existence, their opening salvo went something like this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and from that glorious moment, when the ideal of a free society was loosed upon the world, that singular concept of equality has worked its way into the founding documents of every country that aspires to liberal government.
And that’s good, right? Of course, it’s good. There’s a catch. There’s always a catch. What does it mean to be created equal? Does it mean we’re all the same, because equal means the same, right?
Now, while it’s true that some species in the animal and insect kingdoms are a little more than knockoffs of each other, a quick trip to the neighbourhood grocery store or a bustling city street anywhere in the world will confirm to any thinking person that we humans are not the same.
We come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colours. Some of us are strong. Some of us are weak. Some of us are super smart and some of us are democrats … okay I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Some of us
are republicans, and something else too okay.
The point is that when we’re talking about humans, nature loves diversity. So if nature loves diversity in humans, then equality or sameness can’t apply to any of our natural endowments.
It can’t apply to our physical appearance or health or to our relative talents, to our luck or the economic status we were born into.
When it comes to natural endowments, some of us are just graced with blessings and the rest of us have to make do with what we got.
So if nature doesn’t make us equal, who or what does?
We do! But how?
living in society means living in the company of others. And in order to live in the company of others and keep conflict to a minimum, it’s a pretty good idea for that society to have clearly defined rules that everyone can understand.
Most importantly, everyone must have the sense that they are all subject to those rules in the same respect.
Sameness of rules and sameness in our relation to those rules. That is what equality means.
So while we may not have literally been created equal, we come into the world equally subject to the laws of nature and recreate that sameness in our application of the laws of men.
Yeah, equality can only be before the law. Now, why do I make a big deal out of that?
Because some folks think equality is about equalizing natural endowments. We call these peeps egalitarians. Egalitarians see the natural inequality that results from equal liberty and the equal application of the law as a problem society must fix.
By unequally applying laws and restraints to handicap some and privilege others. In other words, they claim to create equality by practising inequality. I know, it’s weird, but weird is what happens when you don’t understand what you can and can’t control.
So let’s be clear here. You can’t control that there can be huge differences between people and that those differences can create huge disparities and outcomes. That’s equal liberty for you.
You can control whether or not the law applies to all and whether all are equally free from force.
Fighting for sameness before the law. That’s what equality really means.