Created Equal, Created Unequal
Modern culture is positively obsessed with equality, whether it’s in the sphere of race, gender, income, religion, marriage, or any other hot topic in the media. We want everything to be equal, and at first glance this seems like an admirable goal. But, in many areas, this obsession has passed from enthusiastic, to excessive, to just plain ridiculous.
To say the least, our society is confused about the meaning of ‘equality’. In a sense, we have actually passed from one extreme to the other.
Whereas we previously failed to recognise the equal and inherent human dignity of many in society (women, children, various foreigners, the poor), and many people heroically worked (and still work) to change those things, we now also attempt to make people equal (or at least, we pretend they are equal) where they cannot be.
So what is equality, really? Well, a good starting point is probably the most iconic quote on the topic, from the US Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…”
Now, it should be clear that this statement must be interpreted correctly to make sense. It doesn’t mean that every human being is identical, that they all have the same talents, the same appearance, or the same personality. It doesn’t even mean that each will, or could, make the same contribution to society. It means, very simply, that each human being has equal, inherent human dignity as a child of God.
And ultimately, I think this is something that is lost on modern thinkers: human beings are only, and can only be equal in this sense. In every other respect, we are manifestly unequal.
As Catholics, this is where we see the hand of God in designing us each uniquely. We are created different, some stronger than others in various areas, for one primary reason: the virtue of charity.
God creates us weak and strong, so that we need each other. So that we have the opportunity both to help and to accept help. To love and give of ourselves to others, and to be so loved by others.
When it’s all boiled down, this is the solution to all the problems our society has with inequality and injustice. Love is what’s really needed to heal the brokenness of our world.
And that’s why it’s heartbreaking and disappointing to see the actual response of the world, apart from the Church. To be blunt, every one of these solutions discard charity, and substitute some counterfeit in its place. And too often these days, the counterfeit is a false equality.