Equality that is imposed doesn’t raise everyone up, it brings everyone down

We live in an age where equality is celebrated. Any discrimination, based on race, gender, caste and so forth, is frowned upon, or even condemned. And certainly, unfair discrimination needs to be removed. 

But inequality is just a fact of life. Right from the classroom, students who do well academically are mostly winners of a genetic lottery at birth. Academic performance rests on high IQ, and our IQ is largely determined at birth. 

Can such differences be done away? Suppose a school decided to give all students equal grades, maybe the average of the grades of all the students. What will happen? All the low-IQ students will become complacent, thinking that they will get a better grade than what they would by their own effort. All the high-IQ students will become lethargic, thinking that their talent and commitment won’t be rewarded; so, why bother to work hard? 

Thus, when equality is imposed in terms of equal results for everyone, it makes everyone worse. Imposed equality may temporarily feel good to those who are imposing it and to some of those who are raised by it. But eventually, it brings everyone down. It takes away the impetus for everyone to improve: for the average to become above-average and for the above-average to become outstanding. 

Rather than imposing equality at the material level, Gita wisdom helps us realize our equality at the spiritual level: we all are souls, who are equally parts of the divine. And then it offers a socio-economic division of labor called varnashrama (04.13) that accommodates our psychophysical diversities while enabling us all to contribute materially and evolve spiritually. 

By thus providing everyone equal opportunity according to their psychophysical propensity, Gita wisdom provides everyone the opportunity to grow in a way that is individually and socially constructive. 


Think it over:

  • How is inequality a fact of life?
  • Why is imposed equality counterproductive?
  • How does the Gita deal with inequality?  



04.13 According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.

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