Are People Inherently Equal?
I was posed with this question and I attempted to provide an honest answer to it. Go ahead, answer it right now. I have no way of judging if you answered the way I did. I do, honestly, believe that people come in different qualities. I also believe that people inherently know this. If I were to rephrase the question as “Are there Good people and Bad people?” most people would agree that there are. Someone that kills and steals isn’t as good as a person who doesn’t. Why, exactly?
Is theft inherently wrong? Is killing inherently evil? I hearyou. You’re reading this, thinking “Yes, of course.” When you say that, I think about Les Misables’ Jean Valjean, who had been arrested for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving sister. I think about our American troops who leave their safe homes and go half a world away to fight, and sometimes kill, for us here at home. These are extreme examples, but they’re getting me to my point. The acts, themselves, aren’t inherently evil. It’s the context that makes them evil. If Jean Valjean was a rich man imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread, he would be evil; he would be a bad man. If the same soldier in Iraq came home and killed here, that soldier would be evil.
Let’s expand upon this:
In what context is intelligence good?
In what context is hard work goo
In what context is stupidity good?
In what context is laziness good?
If you answered these questions like I did, you might say that there are many contexts for the first two and there are few contexts for the latter two. Somewhere, there are contexts in which stupidity and laziness are good things, but those contexts aren’t of value in our society. You can, from that, extrapolate that people who exhibit those behaviors aren’t of value in our society.
This isn’t to say that people who behave stupidly or who are lazy will permanently suffer under that condition. For example, take a baby and a seven-year-old. Technically, a seven-year-old’s ability to read is of more value than a newborn infant. If you needed some instructions read out to you while you fixed a broken pipe, you’d ask a seven-year-old before you’d ask a baby. Let’s go ten years into the future. That baby is, now, ten and the seven-year-old is, now, seventeen.
If that seventeen-year-old still reads at a second-grade level and that ten-year-old reads at a fifth grade level, to you, the ten-year-old is now more valuable.
What had happened?
My sister had started to read Their Eyes Were Watching God. She left the novel on the coffee table in our home and my father picked it up, studying the back cover. My sister caught him in this moment of curiosity and told him that it might be nice if they read the book together.
“I’ve read enough books. Thank you.” My father said.
This is the inherent divide that makes a person better or worse. If you ever believe that you have done enough, you are making yourself lesser. I am not a fan of Absolutes, but I do believe that people cannot stagnate. Never, ever stagnate. If you stop moving, you are moving backward.
I’ll get into this more in the rest of the book but, technically, you only need to know this: You can make yourself better by seeking.
(Guess what, you got the moral of this book on the fourth page!)