Thomas Jefferson declared all men are created equal. What about after they are created?
No rule says every human being has to have the same privileges as all others. My personal happiness is not dependent on my circumstances or on what I possess compared to others. It is when we seek to rate people’s worth and then treat them as lesser beings that we create inequality among us.
Even little children understand the concept of inequality. They will cry out when something is unfair and become upset when they are left out. You might think they are just whining so they can get their way. It is not a sin to want things. The sin applies to those not willing to share what is meant to be free.
All Other Things Being Equal
The fight to create equality in society is part of the human experience. The founding fathers of our nation revolted from Great Britain when they were being treated as lesser citizens. The Civil Rights Movement was sparked by the injustices of a society ranking a man’s worth by the color of his skin. And we call people feminist who battle prejudice against women in our current generation. Inequality exists wherever there are people. It will continue to exist so long as we view others in terms of rank.
What does it mean to be equal with another? How can two people have all things in common? Everyone is different. It is not possible to have the exact same capacities, opportunities and shortcomings as another in the minute sense. It is only in general that we can fairly measure equality. At the same time, generalizations are often unfair.
The Number Games
My diagnosis of Asperger syndrome has shown me a little of how unfair the world can be. A woman I spoke to recently asked me if I was good at math or something. I told her I am just like anyone else. She said I must have some sort of amazing mental talent to make up for the Asperger’s just like the other diagnosed people she knows. Ignorance may be her bliss, but it is my misfortune.
Why should the few people we observe set the standard for how we view all other people? More exceptions exist than any general rule. The desire to simplify people into categories forces us to look at things in terms of averages instead of measuring the worth of each individual within a group.
The fact that I am 30 years old, 6’3’’ and 145 lbs. probably does not provide an image of what I go through daily. I being a white, American, Mormon, poor college student will probably get people thinking they know everything there is to know about me. We are more familiar with the generalizations than we are with people. I won’t say all generalizations are unfair. My video game playing, anime watching and extensive knowledge of comic book characters justifies you in assuming some things about me.
The Pecking Order
My mother and father would frequently tell me a particular story regarding baby chickens whenever I got singled out in school. They said the baby chickens will find the one among them who has a weak spot and peck at it till the baby died. Their story didn’t comfort me. The only thing I learned from it was that people see me as weak.
People don’t have to know what I am diagnosed with to recognize that I am different. They always find my weak spots in the first few moments of meeting me. I have become accustomed to being relegated to a lesser role in nearly every setting I find myself in. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
As a child, I was aware of the foul behavior instigated by the pecking order. I refused to stoop to that level. Unfortunately, by not fighting for a higher position you are immediately assigned the lowest ranking. Humility is often viewed as weakness. Those with a little bit of strength, talent or influence often rank me low. They know I won’t fight back. If only people knew what true strength is!
Appraisers and Condescenders
The existence of cruelty is not what surprises me. Persecution will continue as long as people feel they can get away with it. The injustice that truly sickens me is the fact that we allow this inequality to continue on around us.
We treat individuals as inferior to make ourselves feel superior. The easiest ones to persecute are the people we think we have no need of. The poor, the unattractive and the unintelligent are prime targets for abuse. I got into fights in elementary school only because the bullies knew no one would defend me. Who would want to be friends with the weird, poorly dressed kid who didn’t understand anything?
When I tell people I have trouble making friends they often respond by trying to make me feel better about my own self. They will say, “Do not forget you are a wonderful person.” They just assume that I have self-esteem issues because of my circumstances. You can’t strengthen someone by treating them like a weakling. Helping a person because you think less of him is still inequality. The next time someone tells you they are alone, do what my friend did and say, “You got me, don’t you?”
The Great Equalizer
No one should have to prove their self-worth to anyone. The worth of souls is already obvious to me. Do you realize what a privilege it is to be alive? All of us are part of this great body called the human race. Why should one part of the body determine the rest as being inferior?
The strongest person I have ever known is my mother. Mom is kind and caring toward all people. She will snap into action when anyone threatens her family. She often came to my school to make sure her young boy was not being mistreated. She wasn’t afraid to scold anyone of any rank who crossed her family. At the same time, she is a humble woman who often receives a lot of mistreatment from everyone. She never tried to make anyone feel inferior in return. Throughout it all, she kept her pride. She has never doubted her own strength.
I try to be like my mother. I appreciate all people in my life and never put anyone down. No one is inferior to me and I am no one’s inferior. And I don’t need permission from anyone to have value. My value was ensured the day I was created. Thank you, Mom.