In America, and much of the modern Western world, we are very open and passionate about our belief that everyone is created equal.
But we also put all our value in accomplishment and results.
Those two do not mesh well. Because if you believe that people are created equal in their abilities to accomplish, and then assign value to people according to what they accomplish, you have a huge problem with no longer truly believing people are equal. This leads to a lot of problems in thinking, including, but not limited to:
- Belief that if someone accomplishes less, it must be because they CHOSE to work less/try less hard, since they were ‘created equal’ to those who accomplished more.
- Belief that if someone is particularly weak/damaged/bad in one or two areas, that some great force in the universe will compensate for it by making them particularly gifted or amazing in their ability to accomplish in other areas. Because that would make them ‘equal’ and we could judge those who struggle with those people as saying they don’t ‘value’ the areas where the less-abled people are better.
- Belief that everyone is entitled to all the same perks and pleasures in life, regardless of their efforts or actions, because they are ‘equal’ and ‘equal’ somehow tends to translate to “I get all the good things anyone else may have and none of anyone’s bad things or else life isn’t ‘fair.'”
- Belief that if you try and work hard, you are guaranteed the same success that some others have achieved.
- Belief that everyone’s struggles and/or suffering are equal.
- Belief that everyone’s reactions to and experience with the same situation should be equal.
- Belief that it’s everyone’s God-given right to get the exact same outcome out of the same amount of effort or the same situation.
- Belief that because one person was able to overcome some great hardship, that anyone else experiencing the same hardship and not overcoming it must be lazier or have a weaker character than that outlier.
All of these beliefs, and I mean ALL of them, are wrong. Lies. False. Sometimes the belief will fall on the side of accuracy for a situation or two, but don’t let that reinforce it in your mind.
This doesn’t affect the fact that we all have equal inherent VALUE, and that we can all contribute SOMETHING to the world. Ironically, these false beliefs can fool us into thinking that someone else has less value, because we may assume that all negatives in their lives came because of their conscious choices, thus invalidating any inherent equality. In other words, ‘they brought it on themselves.’
I’m not saying that every action, reaction, choice, and consequence is therefore justifiable. I’m saying the variables are infinitely complex, and when it comes right down to it, no human can judge another’s intent or ability. Sometimes we have to enforce consequences, yes. If someone does something illegal, they need to be prosecuted. If a child does something naughty, consequences must be enforced. This helps with teaching/learning and keeping order in our society and helps us to be happier by teaching us the skills we need to exert some control over our lives and our emotions. But one person’s alcohol use, ability to work, financial worth, and social status is not going to be the same as another’s, nor should it be a statement on their intrinsic, eternal worth. You are not qualified to judge, and neither am I. Frankly, you aren’t even fully qualified to judge yourself. Only God truly knows all the factors and their weight in the full picture.
So, what is the purpose of bringing this up? One reason: you don’t know everything about everyone, but we have to deal with people. Do so in love. Give people the benefit of the doubt, but above all, LOVE THEM.