Equality and Power

My friend sent a couple of us a thought that was worth exploring: Can we ever achieve equality? And if we can’t, why do we strive for it?

By equality, I’m assuming he means power as it seems to bleed into all aspects of life.

I’m leaning on no. We can never achieve equality because human nature wouldn’t allow it. Power is a commodity in a sense that there are those who crave it and those who will trade it for something else (like security and stability). Also, when people organize and get together, we seem form hierarchies as a means of operational efficiencies and that is another exchange of power. Lastly, even political ideologies centered on equality (like communism) have failed because of corruption and greed at the top. It’s an issue of those who don’t want to or care to handle power and those who want it too much.

However, it doesn’t mean that we should stop fighting for it. Abraham Lincoln once said: “For better or worse, our future will be determined in large part by our dreams and by the struggle to make them real.” It’s nearly the same concept as faith. Faith gives purpose. And everyone wants their life to be purposeful, be it to serve a god, procure tons of crap, or pursue a hobby.

One thing I noticed during college was that all the young activists loved to talk out their asses about equality coupled with grand, abstract visions of this and that. Then when you talk to the older activists, you don’t hear any of that. Instead, they were talking about line items in the State’s annual budget, or raising money for their programs, or figuring out a way to serve ten people at their agencies when they could only afford to serve five. Frederick Douglas once said “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

Equality now is much more personal and intimate than before. What we strive for now is different, but it’s still driven by the same values. And while the steps we take toward equality are not a running start to kick the Man square in the nuts, we’re picking up the fallen and feeble who can’t walk themselves. It’s less glamorous and heroic, but probably much more fulfilling.

I want to hear what the lovelesscynic, Hongie and Wu-ster have to say about this.


One response to “Equality and Power”

  1. lovelesscynic says :

    You know, it really is a rather fascinating question that our mutual friend has stirred up.

    First of all, it seems like we both misinterpreted his question. He was thinking about this in terms of gender equality. Both of us took it as the equality of one group in relation to another. Both of them are worthy topics. I already talked to him about the gender part, I guess I’ll talk about the power aspect here.

    I think before we get too far in though, how are all of us define equality anyway? Does this mean being exactly like someone else? Having the same rights as someone else? Having the same circumstances as someone else? Generally, equality has become a sign of equal opportunity, although I’m not sure that they are the same things. However, equality is generally considered a gloss for equal opportunity and equal rights, based on a civil rights model.

    Will underrepresented groups ever attain true equality? It’s sort of hard to say. Already members of minority groups have attained a place at the table. We can see this quite clearly in some of the politicians in play at the moment. Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton, women (although both privileged, upper class,and white), Obama, and Mel Martinez, have all been put in the spotlight in some ways recently. However, in order to gain power and remain in power, they have to play the game by the rules made by the majority. Is this truly equality? Even on an individual level? It’s sort of hard to say.

    I think you’re absolutely right when you talk about the work that needs to be done. More realistic and less focused on starry eyed idealism. Although really, the idealism is how most of us catch the bug anyway, so don’t knock it too much. I’m not entirely sure how this realistic strategy is connected to equality. Although I do see the connection to a realistic strategy of working towards equality. Perhaps you can clarify this for me a bit.
    The Loveless Cynic

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