Opinion: The Ruse On Equality


One observes that our world is manifold and hierarchic. There are the earth and the heavens. In childhood, we are ruled by our guardian(s)'s love and law. In which case one does not, often, think oneself equal to, say, one’s Mother, and one sometimes thinks one’s parent(s) superior to one’s peers'. In fact we do not care for equality until we start to feel unvalued in comparison to others. But do we really want equality and is it even possible? The American Heritage Dictionary defines equal as “Having the same capability, quantity, effect, measure, or value as another.” I don't believe that males and females have the exact same capabilities, effect, measure or value as one another. For a long time I have found the different but equal propaganda suspicious until I came across another proposal which made more sense to me, unity. It brought to mind the yin and yang in Chinese philosophy. Is that perhaps what we mean when we proclaim different but equal? Unlike different but equal which is a conflicting contradiction which is quite unconvincing but idealistic enough to cling to, yin-yang paints a picture of the union of difference and the beauty of the manifold functioning as a single unit. It does not work separately, it works as a whole. It appears more realistic and desirable to work together as a unit rather than as conflicting portions that are tirelessly insistent in dominating one another while professing to believe in equality and are merely at war to establish such rights.

My grandmother was a rebellious woman who fled from her husband because she felt caged. Yet she tried to advise me differently. She would say, you must not be proud, a woman’s role is to serve her husband. Luckily I was better at observing than listening. Mother who ditched father the moment she realized it was no longer healthy to be married to him, favors my brothers and tried to raise me to be subservient to them. There is nothing wrong with serving another, but it is a pleasureless and dangerous performance to be submissive to another merely because his gender holds a place of privilege in tradition. Having grown up in a household where law and love issued about ninety percent of the time from these women who raised me, I begun to wonder why women––even when they cannot stand the men they marry––seem to prefer the male over the female. Is the male superior to the female? Several of the stories I read in my youth suggested the male was preferable. It seemed a blessing when, at least, the first three children were male and it definitely seemed a curse when the first child was female. In Sunday school it was honed in that Eve came second, and the blame for our current state of unhappiness rests entirely on her stupid shoulders. Then there is Jesus, male! And God, always, He! Alas, I am reading Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil and just stumbled upon his rant on women as being naturally inferior to men. If one ever doubted that Nietzsche was merely human, this is proof enough. Here is the thing, man is not superior to woman nor is woman superior to man. But man and woman are not equal either. They are parts of a unit and depend on each other to create the best form of life. Perhaps this is exemplified in the process of progeny. Here is what I am saying, in certain capabilities, woman is best, and in certain capabilities man is best. There are situations where woman is superior and those in which man is superior. Thus to form a superior existence, man needs woman and woman needs man. Not in an everlasting quibbling of who is better but in appreciation of each others differences and the ability to use each others strengths. It is not the placing of one gender on a pedestal while the other remains ever on her knees in worship but in investing in one another and working together, as one, for the best possible life.

Despite the abundance of diversity everywhere in our environs we cling to singular notions of eminence and thus equality. We live in a manifold world full of ranks and yet, what makes the world beautiful is not merely that it is diverse but that it respects and utilizes its nuances. One of the most incredible trends happening in our present time owes much to this delusion of equality and fear of diversity and it takes form in our new artificial roles of policing the pretentious. The word pretentious is the new way of saying someone or something is pompous and foolish. And oh how we all love HATE pretentious people and things––we can't stop talking about them! It is amusing because to be able to truly identify that which is pretentious one must be familiar with its characteristics. But when one understands where pretentiousness stems from in the individual or society, one understands that one of the worst ways to have any correcting effect on the attitude is to irk it. When one actually realizes that the need to appear more than one is, or the need to impress others is not entirely ridiculous and is worth analyzing, one sees that it is not very wise to go about critiquing everything that seems overwhelming as pretentious. 

The refusal to make genuine efforts to understand the feelings that stream through us and thus our inability to evaluate what drives us to do what we do is an abuse of our intellects and a lack of appreciation of ourselves and fellow human beings. Thus this spot-the-pretentious trend that many of us are now fully immersed in is actually stunting our self-improvement and stifling our creativity. How? Well for one, we claim preference for the layman, but unlike the Romantics, we are not exulting the natural and beautiful aspects of our society's lower ranks or the natural self, but usurping these roles and making things unnecessarily difficult for those who are actually of these ranks. We like the layman because we have grown suspicious of those who seem on our level. We do not like how they make us feel, for they mirror our guilty conscience, our faithlessness in the paths we feel we are being forced to travel and we are ever so tired of competition. Some of us are significant members of companies that generate incomes ending in seemingly limitless zeros but go around in plain t-shirts claiming that we are just like the average person; not merely to ward off the evil eye but because we are probably not so very proud of how we make our monies and we do not want to situate ourselves above those we exploit; we like to pretend we are just one of them. We refute our privileges because we are guilty of having more than we need and being a part of the problem, while we claim to be very equal to the starving person. It is safer to pretentiously champion those we feel superior to, but are, oh the same as: let’s give them a platform to share their suffering as we dictate, to help us annihilate our sense of guilt. Let us give them the voice but only to say what we want them to say, i.e. They (not us) came and took everything and left us to die but we survivedLet us chant what they chant and pretend we can imagine their pain. Let us join them in fighting their exploiters. Then slap ourselves on the back for being so kind to give voice to the voiceless.

Can we please stop pretending that ranks do not exist, that difference does not exist, that we are all really merely separate but equal? Let us leave the layman’s role for him to play; let us not cheat him out of it by playing the part without suffering any of its pains or having any appreciation for the ingenuity of such a station. Let us make the sort of art we really want to make, rather than conform to trends and be ever so fearful of the pretentious police. Let us write the poems we want to write rather than in the ways editors think publishable. Let us allow all voices to speak, yes, those who are full of hate, too, let them tell us how they hate us and why they hate us and how they want to hurt us without calling them mad, foolish or uneducated––let us listened and ask them to explain why. It is not pretentious to spend money you have; it is not pretentious to dress as you enjoy to do; it is not pretentious to be an erudite; it is of no use to usurp stations that are not true to you so as to forcefully create the confusing and misguided web of equality when we can better benefit from a diverse whole in union. If you are ashamed of how you make your money, start making money in a way you can be proud of. If you meet someone who seems to be putting on airs, give them your attention, they probably really need it and perhaps so do you. You might learn more from them than you could possibly imagined.

Albeit we all contribute to our fine ladders of hierarchy, we are in much denial when it comes to our own placement in this system that it is quite dangerous. Today, for instance, we insist that we are simple people of simple tastes and we decide rudeness is frankness, and apparent foolishness is natural because it is unedited. Surely even the caveman knew better. What is the point of having developed over all these centuries only to pretend to be still apes? How does one come to the conclusion that a person who considers another's feelings before they speak or act is 1) pretentious; 2) unnatural; and 3) should be treated with suspicion. It is owing to this illogical fears and preference for a black and white world that one of the most influential countries in the world today is headed by the finest example of a person most unsuitable for a leadership position. So what does it say about us as a people who claim that our country is the greatest in the world when the highest position of power in said country is held by one who is unqualified? Well, we like to claim that he is not our leader. Yes, denial. Then we blame some European country. Yes, denial. Then we insult this person––basically giving him the OK to remain ineffective by having him know that we expect nothing of him. Yes, denial. At what point do we start looking at ourselves as ones who are the followers of such a government and leader? What does it mean that we are allowing ourselves to be lead by a most inappropriate leader? How is it that we are not reminded that the government’s agency comes from its people and not the other way around? How is that we are not realizing that we actually let this happened and we are actually letting it continue because we prefer to live in our own bubbles than be mindful of any uncomfortable happenstance right under our noses? Ah, at least, we are, now, all activists.

In college I quit things with God because I believed myself to be smarter and kinder than Him and there was no reason to bother with any entity that is inferior in the ways I hold valuable. Later it dawned on me that God is beyond my grasp, right around the time when I became mindful of my own failings in the departments I thought I was so good in. It was embarrassing to come to see that one was neither saint nor good enough to replace one's Creator. I ditched God because I felt I knew better, understood better and was capable of better when realistically I knew not even how my body and mind worked nor could I really appreciate what I felt and sensed. I found faith again in the Unknown when love started becoming apparent to me and I felt the need to be part of it. I believe in God because I believe in love and something in me is convinced that God is Love. The beauty of Love, I came to learn, is that all diverse forms feel it in the ways that are most suitable to them. But I would argue that the Unknown has to be female! for I felt I ought to be part of a superior gender. However, there is really no such thing as the superior gender. What there is, is such a thing as a superior people. All we have been trying to do throughout the centuries is to reconcile our differences and acknowledge our unity and that is why we hold steadfast to separate but equal.  So what if Adam was first? Well, it didn't stop there, did it? And what if Adam was preferred to Eve? We have a tendency of telling stories in ways that favor us and it is very likely that Genesis, as well as the majority, if not the entire Bible was written by men. Yes, and what if Adam is God's favorite? Well, Mother favors my brothers and this has given me much freedom: it has released me from the need to tip-toe about her feelings, gave me the Ok to disappoint her, and to pay more attention to who I am and how to be more of this self.

What is equality then? A web of illusions we create to maintain a state of artificiality that keeps us confused and suffering in our misunderstood needs to be all number one, in the exact same sense. First and foremost one’s worth should not be in the hands of others. It ought not hold so much weight if another considers us, everything. The sort of consideration is an inconsideration that corrupts. Just because someone loves you does not mean their love is inestimably worthy. Someone's love for you could be quite worthless, especially when that person's understanding of love is corrupted. It is an instance where the seemingly enviable state is in fact pitiable. It also ought to matter little if another considers us, nothing. Again, who is to say their devaluation of us is actually worthwhile? All that flow in extremes are likely dangerous and untrue. One is probably better off in the grays with an eye about the blacks and whites. Hence the concept of superiority is not as simple as we make it out to be. Throughout history, we have been known to deem superior, the inferior, and inferior the superior. But when one learns that the system of ranks is not simply about the best individual, or the best category but the best whole––i.e. a whole that is superior in its ability to value all levels of its community, invest in it and fully utilize its strengths as a unit. The concept of equality which enforces that despite the fact that I bleed five days in a month and you do not, we are merely separate but equal, makes very little sense. Perhaps what we mean is that we are a pair. It is mind bugling that we professed to a singular system in appreciating differences and are therefore forceful in our need to believe and operate as though the nuances of humanity fit a specific category of acceptability. Hence our society privileges the male owing to an archaic culture that is now ineffective, putting us, as a whole, at a disadvantage. This is why lessons in love are necessary to us all. Not the absurdly selfish and highly eros-centric notion that is sold to us everywhere, but a richer and fuller learning of the diverse natures operating as a unit of love which teaches how to make space for difference and work in diversity. In this way we can desire and understand the value of a yin-yang society and appreciate that second best for the right person is first best, and first best for the wrong person is second best. Meaning that the first does not necessarily triumphs the second, but that there are different kinds of bests which are all necessary in keeping the whole complete.

---
Jane

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