In the modern age, there is great talk of equality and how people can be equal, should be equal and will become equal. This belief is held by many as the ‘Great Moral Pursuit’ of our time. Some say the greatness of our current society is that we are expanding that sphere of equality to apply it to everyone. This apparently is our solution on how to lessen the difficulty and pain inherent in every human life.
The problem with egalitarianism is that people aren’t inherently equal nor can they become fully equal. Therefore, we should not attempt to make everyone equal. Equality should not be considered the goal for humanity for the same reason the ability to fly by flapping your arms should not be considered a goal for humanity; you can try as hard as you want, but it is just impossible.
Most critiques of egalitarianism today come from a stance of practicality. There is a refrain that socialism is wonderful in theory but can’t be implemented, because people wouldn’t be motivated to work. This critique suggests that it’s not the ideology’s fault; it’s the people’s fault for failing to live up to it. These critics oppose the implementation of egalitarianism but for some reason they still think it’s a moral pursuit.
The reality is that bad theory makes for bad practice. If a moral ideal violates the very nature of humankind and the universe, then it is a bad ideal. In order for two things to be equal, they must be the same. Two people are of equal height if they are the same height; two people are of equal weight if they have the same weight. When you really look closer, a desire for equality is very similar to a desire for conformity. Full equality would mean complete sameness. This is no way for people to live – it is the stuff of nightmares, of countless tales of terror.
A book called “Facial Justice,” tells the story of a state that makes sure all girls’ faces are equally pretty by preforming operations to bring them up or down to a happy medium. While there are no current plans to institute so drastic a scheme, it does raise an interesting point about how even beauty influences equality. Recent research has shown that, “better looking attorneys who graduated in the 1970’s earned more than others after five years of practice, an effect that grew with experience.” The authors of the research include a quote stating, “You could legislate for every kind of discrimination, but not this. In everything from jobs to sex the attractive were advantaged, the very plain denigrated and rejected.” The authors say it would be impractical to try to make this sort of discrimination illegal. I disagree. We already make it illegal to discriminate against people for their race, color, national origin, gender, and age in the workplace. What is so impractical about adding another qualification to the list?
People talk about equality before the law as being of importance. But we should remember that the law does not provide total equality, and we should be grateful for that. Recently in Georgia, a man named Warren Hill was issued the death penalty. He has an IQ of 70, and he has been diagnosed as mentally retarded by every doctor who has examined him. Hill has also killed two people. It wasn’t until the hour before he was about to be executed, that the state relented, recognizing that given his mental condition, it would have been deeply immoral to execute him. Not everybody has the same IQ, and reasonable allowances should be made for that. The same goes for children who commit crimes; it would be wrong to hold them to the same standard of responsibility we reserve for adults.
The total fulfillment of equality is something that the human race has never had and never will have. Every step taken towards enforcing equality as a goal is a step in the wrong direction. It is important to treat others with kindness and respect, but it is a mistake to act as though everyone is the same or should be the same. All individuals are unique and each is irreplaceable. The anthill existence that total equality would bring about is anti-human.
Rane McDonough is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.