Equality

by Stephen McAndrew

equalityThe race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.  – Ecclesiastes 9:11.

We are told as children that everyone should be treated equally.  Stories of those who fought to make things equal are celebrated.  It is apparent to even the youngest school child that we don’t live in an equal world – otherwise why would Rev. Martin Luther King have struggled.  So it is not the idea that equality is the status quo but that it could be the future default mode.

We are taught that because the world is equal hard work and talent will always rise to the top.  Work hard in school, turn up on time, do your best.  So an equal world does not mean that everyone will be the same – after all there can only be one President of the United States – but that everyone has a chance of success.  It also should mean that those that do succeed deserve their status because of inherent talent and diligence. 

Therefore, according to this theory, while we may not agree with those in influential positions, we cannot say they don’t deserve to be there.  However, many of us have experienced people in power over us to be somewhat less than brilliant.  I’m not talking about jealousy, but about the smart and talented being bossed by those less so.

The ancient writer of Ecclesiastes, thought to be King Solomon, summed up this dilemma.

There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones.  I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves. (1)

The current economic climate is causing many who have taken to heart the lesson that if you work hard at school and work things will eventually work out to consider whether the game is rigged against them.  Is it really who you know rather than what you know that counts?  Does influence trump innovation?  Can you keep a good man or a good woman down?

In good times such morbid reflections are less cutting…

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