The blogger enjoyed the post and it got her thinking about equality and inequality in terms of talents and abilities and in terms of people’s rights. I agreed with her that we are not equal in talents or abilities although equality of human rights must be observed as she also stated.
I then realised that I was going somewhere else with my comment – as those of you who know me know I’m inclined to do. 😉
Hence this post.
I suppose what drives most people batty is the idea of inequality based on human rights. In the UK any perceived violation of human rights can be referred to the European Court where certain agreements are in place to protect the rights of individuals as human beings. People have done it and legislation has changed to reflect any injustice. In the US I guess that would come under your Constitution.
Nowadays it seems a nonsense in our culture to think that women once did not have the right to vote. You should hear my daughters on that one. They just can’t imagine that this was ever the case. One of them last night was asking me why women in the workforce were ever paid less. (Not that it still does not happen). There followed a history lesson.
I completely agree that we are not equal in talents and abilities and what a boring world it would be if that were the case.
However, there is an identified hierarchy of human need that has to be recognised when we speak of equality for people and these rights are paramount, I feel, when we argue for equality.
What I can’t bring myself to feel comfortable with is that some talents and abilities are more recognised as valued than others and so we have crazy situations where footballers are paid a fortune for their skill with a ball and, of course, the effort they put in to acquiring that skill.
We have politicians whose ‘skill’ in their field may have less to do with their innate ability than other forces that come into play e.g. a thirst for power or glory, an ability to articulate and/or be presentable to the public, a family tradition of politics (unless we choose to call those innate abilities, I suppose).
We have models whose looks rather than talent determine their success in their field. Although we could argue that this too is innate good fortune.
We have movie stars and pop stars whose individual talents may or may not far outweigh the accumulated talents of so many others. But does that mean their efforts are any more worthy than those of ‘untalented’ people?
What really concerns me is that there are millions, well billions, of people getting up every day and putting in the effort to be active, work (if they can and if they are able to find it), to try their best at whatever they do and the reward, in terms of material return, in no way reflects the effort.
We could argue that it is more difficult for people with minimal talent to achieve great success and therefore their efforts must be worth more – that they try at all.
When we come back to the hierarchy of human needs we could argue that as long as we have the bare minimum at the first two levels we’re sorted. But, if that is the case, why do we all strive for more than the minimum? I think we all, or most of us, want to achieve that highest level. But what are the chances of that when basic needs are not met? And there are so many reasons why those needs may not be met. Not all of them self-inflicted as some politicians and others would have us believe.
There is a growing tendency to look at the ‘have-nots’ with some disparagement as if they choose not to have or to depend on the state for basic requirements.
I know of no one whose basic needs are met while depending on the state. And I know quite a few people whose inability to manage with what is received results in loss of electricity and heating. Results in doing without what many consider to be basic essentials. people who either are unable to work or for whom no work is available.
First priorities always include food and shelter. These are two on the lowest most basic level of human needs. And they both cost!
Perhaps that’s why sex is so popular. It’s free!
Why else is there a growth in food banks? Why else are so many at risk of losing their homes? Why else are so many children still living below the recognised poverty line? No amount of ‘handouts’ from the state matches the level needed to avoid that.
Sure, there are some who abuse the system. But the percentage is miniscule compared to the percentage lost through tax fraud.
Inequality is alive and kicking. Not always because of differentiated talents or abilities. But because we as a society value certain skills more than others. As long as we are prepared as a world to pay millions for the work of dead artists and millions for talented footballers we are telling most of the world population that effort does not matter. That dragging yourself out of bed everyday and doing your damndest in whatever it is you’re doing isn’t worth the effort needed to do so. As long as we listen to purveyors of distorted truth and cite laziness or licence as the reason for hardship rather than economic mis/management and inequitable policies, practices and perceptions, there will be inequality.
Einstein may have been right when he said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. But in our world the perspiration seems to count for very little. Regardless of the fact that it is the perspiration of the vast majority that keep the wheels of government and commerce going round.
The fellow blogger mentioned above asked at the end of her post,
“What do you think? Is equality possible? Or should we focus on encouraging and developing our personal talents?”
It may be Utopian to imagine that equality is possible given that we are so varied as humans. And it’s great that we are. Let’s develop those talents and innate abilities and attributes. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that, for most people, it will not be their talents that take them to work each day or get them out of bed to tackle whatever their day may hold. It will be the effort involved in believing that another day in life has to be accomplished as best they can even while unappreciated.
Now how do we change a value system that no longer appears to support or accommodate the realisation of our basic human needs?
Now here’s a Scots comedian who knows what I’m talking about. Maybe I should just have posted this in the first place. 😉