Equality that is imposed leads inevitably to inequality

We live in an egalitarian society, where inequality and discrimination are considered reproachable, even reprehensible. 

Significantly however, equality is not a materially self-evident fact. Whatever material metrics we use for measuring people — even if those metrics are sophisticated such as IQ or EQ — people come out unequal. In the struggle for existence that is life, some people come out on top and others come out at the bottom. 

Equality doesn’t result naturally in any society. Certainly, the harmful effects of inequality — the powerful exploiting the powerless — need to be curbed and countered. Still, if equality is sought to be imposed, it inevitably leads to inequality. How? Because for imposing that equality, there has to be some authority who will decide who needs to be displaced from the top and who needs to be elevated from the bottom. And because this authority claims the moral high ground, touting its intention to bring about equality, it often ruthlessly reviles and represses those who oppose it. Thus, the equality-imposing authority becomes unequally powerful, often destructively and disastrously powerful. 

How then can equality be established? Gita wisdom explains that because equality is a non-material reality, it’s best fulfilled at a non-material level. The wise see all living beings equally, knowing that they all are spiritual beings and are equal parts of the supreme spiritual being (Bhagavad-gita 05.18). Everyone has the same spiritual potential to connect with the all-attractive Whole, Krishna, thereby relishing the supreme pleasure. Through spiritual education, people’s primary definition of success is shifted from attaining material goods to realizing the spiritual good within them. 

Materially, people can contribute differently based on their particular talents and interests — and the results are unlikely to be equal. Nonetheless, when their consciousness is spiritualized, the aspiration underlying equality can be fulfilled by providing them the appropriate resources to become spiritually connected and sublimely contented. 

Think it over:

  • How is equality not a materially self-evident fact?
  • How does imposing equality lead to inequality?
  • How can the aspiration for equality be fulfilled?


05.18: The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].

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