Does inequality always arise from discrimination?

Suppose we are watching a sports match. What makes sports entertaining, even captivating, is the capacity of players to excel: to tackle extreme challenges, to transcend boundaries that limit most humans, and to put in superlative performances. 

Suppose we find that in a particular sport, the players who excel come prominently from a particular ethnic group. Would we object to such inequality? No, as long as they have risen to the top through a fair competition that included interested players from various groups. Could people from certain ethnic groups excel in certain sports or in certain areas of life at large? Why not? We humans don’t control how nature distributes talent within an ethnic group. Why, then, should we be able to control it across ethnic groups? Within an ethnic group, some people are more gifted in particular areas than others; similarly, some groups at large may well be more gifted in particular areas than others. 

Seen from a spiritual perspective, the Bhagavad-gita (07.08) states that human talent is a manifestation of the Divine. Since everyone is a part of the Divine and since the Divine can manifest through everyone, talent that manifests the Divine doesn’t have to conform to human expectations of political correctness. 

More importantly, we don’t watch sports for equality; we watch it for performances that define and redefine excellence. And if excellence matters so much even in areas of entertainment, how much more will it matter in areas critical for survival — such as firefighting, national defense or emergency medical care?

Therefore, we needn’t impose equality everywhere or pursue equality as an end in itself; we can pursue it as an end to excellence, and celebrate excellence wherever it manifests. 

One-sentence summary: 

When inequality results from natural diversity, not human discrimination, don’t resent the absence of equality; celebrate the presence of excellence. 

Think it over:

  • When might inequality not result from human discrimination?
  • What could be the spiritual rationale for the unequal distribution of talent?
  • How do equality and excellence interrelate? 

***

07.08: O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable oṁ in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Very deep dive… Inequality can exist without discrimination too

    Can it be linked to prarabhda? Somehow

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