Equal but not the Same

01-27-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Looks like the school children of France had a very Joyeux Noel as French President Francois Hollande announced before Christmas that he wants to do away with homework. It seems homework is too bourgeoisie. Only the children of the rich have parents who have time to actually assist with homework and children of the lower classes have parents who have no time to help with homework thus creating an inequality. First let me ask, WHERE WAS THIS MAN WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL!

Here's the trouble with this Progressive notion of equality in all things, including outcomes: rather than trying to raise the bottom to the middle or the middle to the top they insist on pulling the top to the middle and the middle to the bottom. So in effect equality = mediocrity.

I first learned this lesson in High School. I attended the last all boys Public High School left in the country at that time (and a long time ago it was). In my freshmen year a girl sued for discrimination for being denied entrance to the Boy's School but the US Supreme Court ruled that since there was a Girls' High School down the street and it was of equal caliber no discrimination occurred. Years later the suit was re-filed and this time the Court ruled that the Boy's School outperformed the Girl's School which meant girls were being denied a superior education and hence the High School had to admit girls. So rather than insisting that the Girl's School get up to speed the solution was to have the Boy's School admit girls. Of course this in essence meant that if you remained in the Girls' High School you were going to an inferior school.

What does it mean then to say that we are all equal? The fact is that we are all different with a variety of talents and unequal degrees of ability within those talents. Try as I may I will never write like Shakespeare nor play football like Brett Favre or sing like Pavarotti! Even if I practiced for a lifetime my outcomes would not equal theirs. So even when you define equality as sameness different outcomes will still be the norm. Hence in order to achieve the Progressive Utopia of equality there comes a need to impose sameness of outcomes by lowering the top to the middle and the middle to the bottom.

This is also why the obsession with "Diversity" is so superficial. Real diversity requires a recognition that differences remain and that of course flies in the face of sameness. So equality has to be rooted somewhere else. For Jews and Christians and for the Founders of our Nation, equality is God-given not state supplied only state protected. We are all created equal in that we all bear the imprint of the image and likeness of God. Which at its essence means we are equal in dignity. And it is that dignity that must be honored and protected in every person no matter his or her talent, fame, fortune or stage of development or decline.

In our country we have tried to ensure human equality by ridding ourselves of all forms of human inequality caused by discrimination by promoting equality of opportunity, a level playing field in other words. But even with a level playing field outcomes are not always the same. Different outcomes however do not make us unequal. But since many including French President Hollande, do not see it this way and insist on equality of outcomes, a sort of invidious discrimination has taken root towards those who can't attain equal outcomes despite equal opportunity. This would include the poor, the very sick, the unborn, the disabled or anybody who for whatever reason has a physical or mental condition that precludes their full participation in society. This is what fuels the thinking and justification for the eugenic movement. Once the measurement of human worth is one's ability to participate fully in the rat race then abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide become not only permitted but also required.

A person's dignity comes from the fact of their humanity nothing else is required. From there we can work to build a society where all benefit from each other's successes. The fact that we are not all the same nor achieve the same level of success is not an indictment on our society but a reminder of our responsibility to use our gifts and resources for the benefit of all.

Until the Lord comes, Grace and Peace be yours.
Love, Fr. John B.