indifference to equality.
I don’t often write on social issues or politics – I don’t really see the point in reading too deeply into something that will have completely changed in a matter of 5 – 10 years. Yes, it’s good to always have opinions, but I have never seen myself as a political informant… or maybe that is something else. Recently, I’ve been wondering a lot about the movements in our world. It could be because of the news, or perhaps I accidentally watched some of the live-acting/puppet shows Saturday morning and have been permanently scarred for life.
When I was poor and I complained about inequality people said I was bitter, now I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want inequality on the agenda because it is a real problem that needs to be addressed. – Russell Brand, interview with The Guardian, 11/5/2013
Most sentiments of inequality light on our social systems. The incident in Ferguson, MO became a hallmark to deep-seated racism and racial tensions in the West; which has branched into questions of economy – this generation estimates the rise of trillionaires, while inhabitants in Africa die by the ten thousands daily of malnutrition and poor water sourcing. Almost every social issue becomes an off shoot of the have’s and the have not’s. In a scene of irony, Charlotte celebrated Pride Day the other weekend, which is a push for social equality, while a homeless man named Raymond sat on a bench not even a block away – where he sits all day, every day. Nobody taught him to read, he’ll tell you about losing his family, but thankful his children are doing well for themselves. Some love him, others curse him. He’s a veteran. He’s also a grandfather. What is equality?
Equality – the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities
The majority hold equality as autonomous freedom; “I can do what I want, when I want, and with whom I want”, and many value systems reflect a push for a life without consequences in that ‘it’s not hurting anyone’ or ‘it doesn’t involve you’. Equality is seen as a long term goal life stumbles into, and not granted at its inception. This thinking does little to explain if equality is even possible, or if we really know for what we ask. The wheels of human history seem to turn against social equality, yet the most profound sense of loss is when we see the weak oppressed and the lonely rejected – the question is no longer can we be equal, but are people equal? Here’s one for free: are men and women equal?
Until a man named Paul sat down and wrote letters to the early churches, the answer was No. Women were not without rights, and neither were slaves, but the game was changed when Paul wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). The rule of the world’s social orders had been honor and power, but the message of Jesus began to flood through the world and teach love; our strive for equality in America is actually birthed from Christianity.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – Declaration of independence
The equal rights granted in the Declaration of Independence are not rooted in absence of personal responsibility, but social obedience to the Creator. If men are created, then we will be answerable to His standards, not ours. The Bible teaches that men bear the image of God: the imago Dei, so respect becomes natural and hard work is a desirable trait. Born with a stamp from a source that cannot be changed and is absolute, the pursuit of justice and fairness blossom; we are not the point even in our own lives.
Without the concept of creation, equality is an end we work toward and society, or government, is the source of its definition; humanity has no intrinsic rights other than those offered by the state – children in California have more value than children of Mexico. In fact, the standard of justice can only be seen through the state since nothing is inalienable if it is not also created. There is no moral obstruction in any number of social situations other than the value we could read into them against feelings and social consequences. This harbors an environment of further inequality and loss of human rights, which is the exact thing we find when we stray from the idea that people have intrinsic worth. imago Dei.
Don’t believe me or think I’m crazy? Try this; many of the privileges the first world enjoys are currently at the exploitation: emotional, moral, and physical slavery, of other peoples of the world. It is estimated there are 27 million slaves today. Roughly 3% of any city’s population will be homeless, and only 1 or 2 want to be while the rest don’t know how to escape the deep pain and addiction they feel buried under, or how to embrace and world that has forgotten them. Some actually do call for help while those passing on the street look the other way – literally! The people who seek to help them are often way under funded and under equipped. You can turn away and avoid it, but you can never say you didn’t know.
There are become two camps: either nothing matters, or everything matters. Either I can be unmoved because humanity has no intrinsic value and the die has been cast to offer me favor of my own, or I can be moved because they were born with the same inalienable rights I have been, given to them in their birth, which stirs my sense of justice, my sense of loyalty, from the Creator Who is calling them home. Equality is the beginning, not the end. It is the recognition of deep value and responsibility – not freedom from them.
Am I my brother’s keeper? yes.