This is a difficult post for me to write. The older I get, the more passionate I am on this subject. I understand that I am speaking about this as a white American male who has not endured oppression or inequality myself. But it is from this place that I write so passionately about this. For it is this reality that has caused such an urgency and importance on this matter. I truly believe no one is naturally lesser than me in and of themselves. No one person holds a lesser value as a person. It is from this place of humility, reverence, and respect that I speak, and I hope you will hear me in the same context.
This is by far one of the hottest and most controversial topics today, so I will do my best to handle this discussion with as much sensitivity and care as possible.
The topic today is Human Equality.
What Is Equality?
One definition for “equality” is: the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, and opportunities.
Equality is a word that has been used to advocate rights for different people groups including the LGBTQ community, different racial groups, as well as gender roles and female rights in culture and in the workplace.
Who’s Rights Matter Most?
Our culture right now is buzzing with conversations about equality. We have people advocating for equality for certain people groups, and we now have very loud, very politically famous people who are actively fighting to widen the gap of inequality among races and/or genders. There are so many people standing up for rights or against them, it’s hard to keep up sometimes. I think sometimes we get so saturated culturally that its overwhelming. But perhaps there’s a really important thing to take away from it all. I think there is an over-arching message that our culture is sending right now that is actually a really good thing. And that message is this: No one person is less important than the other. All humans matter, period.
We all matter. We all have the right to exist, to live freely, to make an honest living, and to achieve great things. We should all have equal access to the potential to achieve what we can work hard to earn. No matter what race or gender you are, or what country you come from, or how rich or poor your family is, or what religion ( or lack thereof) you claim, you should be treated with the same respect as the next person.
Why Can’t We Get Along?
So the real question here is this: Why can’t we all just get along?
All cultures have faults, and inequality surely goes back as far as humanity has existed. In America, we have developed a certain degree of competition. Capitalism told us it was about being at the top. The American Dream was the goal, and we could achieve what we wanted to. The problem with that dream is it quickly became an unattainable fantasy for 99% of all people as we transitioned from one generation to the next. The 1% that did achieve success also claimed a great deal of wealth, and thus began to find ways to hoard, secure, and maintain the growth of said wealth. This quickly narrowed the opportunities of everyone else. What was titled “Trickle Down Economics” didn’t work out so well (meaning a distribution of wealth by the rich that would “trickle down” through savings and investments by the rich to the poor. Known in the late 1800s as the ‘horse-and-sparrow theory). Before long, a certain mentality began to grow. Like a festering bacteria, it spread throughout the fabric of society. This mentality is: Everything we have is ours and no one elses! We have to protect what is ours at all costs!
This mentality perverted itself into “There’s not enough for everyone”.
It became a “me vs. you” situation. The problem with that is we had to figure out a way to justify our behavior. We couldn’t just come out and say “I think I’m better than you, therefore I deserve this and you don’t,” so we concocted systems and rules that kept certain groups from excelling. You’re from a minority? Then you’re not as “American” as I am, therefore you have limited rights. You aren’t a Christian? Then you don’t worship the correct god, so you’re dangerous and need to have limited rights for my “protection”.
Sure, inequality preexisted the American Dream. But the inequality of pay, rights, and opportunities to all people groups represents the underlying effects of centuries of inequality all around the world.
The female inequality issue is quite possibly the oldest issue of inequality. It goes all the way back to the beginning.
In (what I believe to be) the fictional depiction of the beginning of humanity’s creation from the Bible, our main character Adam blames Eve for betraying the promise they made to God to not eat the fruit claiming “She made me do it! It’s the woman’s fault! The one you gave to me!”
Women have been the scapegoat, the “problem”, the lesser human for as far back as we have records in history.
Meanwhile, we have a terribly disturbing situation arising in America that some are calling the “Trump Movement”. There is a surging group of people that are growing at an unnervingly rapid rate that are radically spreading a message of hate, condemnation, racial and female discrimination that is doing a fairly successful job of setting our country back decades in progress towards equality. I guess it’s a fairly accurate reality check that this cancerous filth has been just under the surface of a lot of our society for a while and never quite decreased but was just waiting for the right moment to attack.
There is never going to be a good reason for this type of discrimination to exist. No one can give a logical reason why some people choose to hate and condemn any person or people group except for actions motivated by insecurity and irrational fear.
We can’t get along because we fear what we don’t know. We don’t know it because we’re too afraid. Its a conundrum.
Where Are We Going From Here?
A few months ago, President Obama said in a press conference: “I continue to believe that Donald J. Trump will not be president, because I have faith in the American people.”
President Obama is more optimistic than I am. But I do agree that I think saner minds will prevail. But much of the damage has already been done. Much of the world looks to America as a a country full of racist, sexist bigots. That will not be undone for quite some time, no matter who becomes president.
We are, unfortunately, heading towards a much worse place before it gets better.
For me personally, I like to think I was never supportive of inequality, but I wasn’t really actively fighting against it either. I just wasn’t very aware of it. I didn’t really consider it or care very much. But as I got older, I became intensely convicted of the greater good of humanity and the part I can play in it. I realized that if I choose to believe in Jesus and his philosophy, then there was no option to disregard anyone or devalue their worth in the world. To Jesus, everyone has value. It didn’t matter if they were from a different place, culture, or family. It didn’t matter if they didn’t believe He was God. He loved them anyway. He fed them anyway. He clothed and served them anyway. Who, then, am I to do any less?
We as a culture may be getting worse, but I choose to be better.
How Can We Be better?
There was a point where I had a major realization that I could no longer ignore the fact that all people had equal value. Human equality began to reshape the way I viewed all things. I couldn’t sit comfortably in a church pew, or talk casually about people dying of hunger or not having clothes while we all sat comfortably in our nice new building with our nice lights and sound system and instruments and talked about helping people in need as though its this ideal that we like to believe in but never actually live out individually.
I didn’t want to ignore the very intense reality that white people so often kill black people because of an irrational, illogical, ignorant hate that is completely unfounded.
I could no longer ignore the fact that women have been treated as lesser than men in every way. Women have been shown inequality in pay at the workplace, a general over-sexualization, physical and emotional disrespect, and a complete disregard of one’s right over their body.
I could no longer ignore the fact that regardless of what you tell me, all Biblical evidence points to the reality that the cultural assumption that Jesus hates homosexuals is not only wrong, but goes completely against the Gospel, the Love of God, and shows the complete ignorance and absurdly disturbing blindness the average person has to their own interpretation of Scripture. There is no evidence to support that Jesus did, or would have treated the LGBTQ community with hate, disgust, violence, or rejection. I believe fully that Jesus loves anyone from the LGBTQ community just as much as He loves me.
I believe there should be no difference in how we treat each other generally. It’s one thing if someone betrays trust, commits a crime, or does something unethical, illegal, or otherwise offensive to their fellow man. But I choose to never hate anyone. I will not judge someone based on their skin, their religious or sexual orientation, or their gender. I choose to actively fight the notion that someone is somehow less important than I am. I do not believe this to be true of anyone, in any case, for any reason.
I know you may not share the same views as me, and that is alright. I believe that we should all be able to show respect to one another, regardless of our differences. I’m secure enough with myself to be alright if you think I’m wrong. You can disagree, you can argue your point. But it will be done from a place of mutual respect for one another or I won’t tolerate it. I believe people’s opinions should only be heard if they are respectful, loving, and full of grace.
Again, I just want to say that I recognize that I am saying all of this as a white American male who has never had to deal with inequality personally. It is for this reason that I tried to tread carefully and with the utmost respect for my fellow humans of all backgrounds, race, gender, and religious preference or lack thereof. I try hard to operate from this place always, and I hope I come across as such.
Human equality has completely changed my views on religion, faith, God, life, relationships, and love. I can only hope it has as great of an impact on you as it has with me.