The Necessary Myth of Equality

We hold these truths to be self-evident:  that all men are created equal…

But are they?  Not in the slightest.  Equality is a myth.  But it is a necessary myth.

Consider:  Equality implies two things that are measurable which, when measured, turn out to be the same.

How do you measure a man?

You can measure some things.  Bobby can lift fifty pounds over his head; Freddy can lift ninety.  We say that Freddy is stronger than Bobby: in this instance we have a measure and can tell whether the two are equal or not.

And any given two people are very rarely equal in strength.  Or in any measurable fashion.

But it gets more complicated.  Freddy’s arms may be stronger, but Bobby may have stronger legs, or the ability to hold up his maximum weight for seven times as long.  So what do we factor as more important?  How many pounds of arm strength equates in value to a pound of leg strength?  And how do we factor endurance in?  Is it a straight-up multiplier that increases for each given length of time, or is it a curve?  In either case, what should the length of time be, and how strong should the multiplier or exponent be?

Now factor in other matters.  There is such a thing as moral superiority, for Jesus says that people will be better or worse off in Hell depending on what they knew and how they acted.  But what constitutes a point of moral goodness or badness?  How do you measure it?  And once you have a measure, how many pounds of strength equals a point of morality?  Can they even be compared?

Even more easily quantified things, like how many multiplication problems a man can do in a minute, don’t logically cut across lines.  Does four math problems equal one minute-pound of strength?  Ten?  One half?

So, there it is.  We two, you and I, are not equals.  Either you, or I, is stronger.  Either you, or I, is morally superior.  Either you, or I, is more intelligent.  Either you, or I, is financially better off.

Some of these, like strength or wealth or certain types of intelligence, we can quantify and compare here and now.  Some, like morality, wisdom, and other types of intelligence are either hard, or impossible.  And summing up a man, deciding which measures count more and which count less, is humanly impossible.  If it even can be done, it can only be done by God.

And it does not necessarily have to be doable.  God’s judgement will be based on our obedience, or rather on His Son’s obedience, not on whether we are stronger or faster or brighter.  So, these various axis of measurement need not have any correspondence to one another whatsoever.

All men are not created equal.  I would not be surprised to learn that no men are created equal.  But no man is able to judge the relative value of another except in a very limited and shallow way.

So the only sensible thing is to throw up our hands, say “I don’t know,” and treat each other as equals.


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