Equality doesn’t require everyone to have the same wealth, education and skills but it does require everyone to have financial security and the confidence to solve their everyday problems. Having equal opportunity, and encouragement to gain the necessary wealth, knowledge and skills is also important,
However, in our society, the main source of a sense of equality or inequality comes from how the differences that define us as individuals are valued by other people and by the system. In our culture, people are judged by their usefulness to the economy or how their looks and actions compare to some unrealistic ideals. The dread of being judged as inferior compared to others or against some impossible ideal causes incredible anxiety, even for people most others would say are successful. The emotional pain from this contributes to the high rate of mental illness, especially depression, self-harm and crimes of resentment.
We are all equal in potential when we enter the world and we are of equal value to the universe, simply because we exist. It is the man-made social systems that make us unequal and, in many cases, the system blames those it rejects rather than look at its own failure to provide a level playing field for all people.
All we need is a shift in thinking. To stop judging differences of others as better or worse than ourselves and look for how our differences complement each other: to welcome difference as an opportunity to improve society rather than fearing it as a threat.
Dr Eric Berne wrote a book, The Games People Play, about how destructive some social game playing can be and his advice for people caught up in these games was to simply stop playing. That was what I did. I realised that the status game was part of a society I was accidentally born into and that, as an adult, I didn’t have to play along with. So I stopped playing and, over some years, gradually came to the point where I know that no one in the world is less important than me, and no one in the world is more important than me. We are all equal but different and I try not to compete with anyone.
Many people (such as authority figures) have responsibilities that I cooperate with so they can meet their responsibilities, but I don’t regard them as superior to me in any way. There are many people who have less than I do but I don’t consider them to be inferior to me in any way.
Peace of mind and contentment is the reward for exploring ways of applying the principle of equality in an unequal society.
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.