Divine Inequality

“No matter how a person strives for it, the conditions of life can never be perfectly equal. Even if by misfortune, such an absolute dead level were attained, there would still be inequalities of intelligence, which coming directly from God, will never escape the laws of man”

Alexis de Tocqueville

I would say I agree that there is such given inequality in life. Those who believe in the existence of God would say it is divine intervention or preordination while those who do not believe may say it is a matter of fortune.

Some people are born blind, others with incurable syndrome, so it is not just inequalities of intelligence but also physical inequalities, mental inequalities and other issues. These inequalities lead to inequalities of treatment from other people, society, and state. This in turn means different treatment, different chances, and different choices to some extent.

There are, however, situations and contexts in which people with different needs should be treated equal. For example, in a democratic election all citizens despite their race, gender or religion have the same right to vote. There are also other basic rights for every citizen that need to be fulfilled.

But to think of a community or society or state that gives equal treatment to every single one of its members, is a utopian idea. To imagine a state in which fire department recruits paralyzed citizens to be the fire fighters is somehow unacceptable. On the other hand government of states also need to make a positive or reverse discrimination towards disadvantaged groups inside society. Affirmative actions that favor some groups sometimes need to be adopted.

At the same time, what we perceive as equal treatment sometimes is misleading. To govern, every state needs simplification. The result of this simplification is categorization of citizens with regard to taxation, conscription, and other issues. Partly as a result of neglecting the very identity of its citizens. Thus a person with lower income may have to pay the same tax as person with higher income (it is more obvious in middle-class society).

The question is do we really need to achieve a perfectly equal life. Do we need to be treated equally by state? There is a hidden trap in the idealistic view of equal treatment because sometimes the best way to treat a person (even sometimes in socio-political context) is by considering his or her background and aspects of life. Besides that society also needs some degree of competition to increase the quality of life for all and to some extent, inequality encourages this competition.

In the end, the world has witnessed failed attempts from state to create perfectly equal communities. Former USSR and the Great Leap Forward in China can be reminders of how tricky and sometimes tragic it can be when a utopian equal society ideal taken into force.


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