Everything is Not Equal

woman in white and pink floral shirt raising her hands

Everything is not equal. That is an untenable concept. If everything is equal there is no distinction between judgment and acceptance, no difference between love and hate, no preference towards equality over differentiation. The whole basis of treating things as equal is based on a judgment – that equality is better, and this falls down by it’s own argument. If it is good to treat everything as equal, then it is equally good to treat everything as unequal. It becomes a meaningless concept.

And yet – it is a very popular concept. Why is such a nonsensical proposition so popular? Well for a start it is an expression of a reaction against the opposite – a reaction that of course leads to the opposite imbalance, as all reactions, or at least most of them do. We react against the feeling of being judged, against the sense of hierarchy that we see in the world, against the power structures that seem to be so insurmountable, and unavoidable, and we wish for something that didn’t have those power structures. We wish for something that didn’t have any power structures at all, and this we imagine as equality. Of course what we don’t realise is that there is always a power structure. Even if it is the informal power of who do people listen to more, or the assumption of wisdom among the older people, or whatever unspoken rules govern people’s unconscious perceptions and responses to the world. In many cases these unspoken power structures can be worse than the conscious ones because the conscious ones can at least be considered, and discussed, and perhaps even changed, but the unspoken, unconscious power structures are very difficult to even understand – they are in our shadow – the part of ourselves that we cannot (or will not) see.

This concept of equality is also particularly popular among a particular section of our population. Those we might call mature souls, or heart centred, compassionate people. The soulful explorers of life who wish to discover themselves in their own way – people who might become artists, or community organisers, who understand and are drawn to compassion and inner peace. There is a strong inner motivation for this concept of equality based on the core principle that guides these people’s happiness in life. These people find happiness through acceptance, gratitude, compassion, mindfulness. It is crucial for their own wellbeing and happiness that they treat all with compassion and love, and that they lean towards understanding rather than judgment. And this is a great thing to do. But it is a very different thing to practice compassion, and to impose those ideas that might come out of compassion onto the nature of the universe. Also perhaps there are better ideas – more true ones that can lead us to compassion – an understanding of the uniqueness, and differences between everything that realises that equality and inequality don’t even make sense because at essence we cannot compare. Each element is so different that it can only be admired for what it is.

And this leads to even more compassion than our previous thoughts of equality. And it still allows for choice, for distinguishing between what we choose, and what we leave aside, for what leads to wellbeing, and what leads to discomfort. Discrimination and Detachment are qualities that are recognised as being part of the same level of the mind as compassion and understanding. Detachment meaning inner peace, being in the now, happy with all that is, and Discrimination being the ability to judge what is worth taking on – because it suits my (or our) wellbeing, and what is worth discarding, or at least not exploring because it is not so beneficial.

Let us instead of focusing on the equality of all things – let us focus on the understanding and respect for all things and their differences. Let us see how there are so many possible expressions out there, and each one has its own value and its own place in the world. Each one if we can understand it well has its place that will lead to a more profound, beautiful experience of the world. Let us embrace all, but let us not let that lead us away from the discrimination of knowing in which direction we would like to head, and which things lead to joy and happiness, and beauty, and which to ugliness and brutality.