What does true equality mean?

2016-09-04 18:27

Equality is an issue which is the cause of a lot of conflict in the South African society.

As I said before South Africa is a country divided by immense contrasts. There are those who are terribly poor, with little opportunity to improve their situation. Then there are others who are much more privileged. There are people dying of Aids. There are others who are able to afford the best medical care with hospitals resembling five star hotels. There are men and then there are woman. There are those who are gay and there are those who pride themselves in being heterosexual. There are blacks and coloureds and whites. There are those who earn more than five million and then there are those who earn less than five cents. There are CEO’s and then there are those who collect garbage. There are those who have a brilliant IQ and there are others who struggle to pass matric.

The diversity in our country is so rich, yet it is also the source of immense conflict. People feel that it is unfair that some are more privileged than others. Which brings me to my next point – what is the source of these differences? Why are some people more privileged than others? I believe that there are three reasons for this. First of all there are people’s natural differences and abilities. These are things that a person can do a little about. Things that can’t be changed like race, sexual orientation, IQ, natural abilities and even your inheritance.

Secondly another reason for being more privileged is because of the fact that people decide to do something for themselves. It comes down to hard work and perseverance. Those who sow reap. The more you put in, the more you get out.

The third reason is because of the fact that some people are discriminated against. How so? Well, simply because some people get more recognition and they enjoy more rights than others.

How can the situation be remedied?

Let’s go back to the first two reasons. Natural abilities are something that a person is born with. For instance some people are gifted artists or musicians or scientists. Those things are beyond your control. People with those gifts will earn more than someone who is less talented. A garbage collector can’t expect to earn the same as a CEO.

Secondly those who work harder and put in more effort will reap the benefits. If you do nothing, you get nothing. In this instance, it’s all up to you.

I believe that in the above two cases people deserve to be rewarded. If someone works hard or has a natural gift they deserve merit, recognition and monetary compensation.

Which brings me to the third reason. Unfair discrimination should never be tolerated. Not in any society. However, one needs to think how equality can be achieved.

Egalitarians believe in order to achieve economic equality, the rich has to give to the poor. However, I have a problem with that. If people are naturally gifted or they work harder than the next person, don’t they deserve to be financially rewarded? I believe they do…

Unfortunately this is what causes a lot of discord and strife in society. People need to realise that we differ with regard to our natural abilities. It is a consequence of nature. We need to accept that.

However, if there is unfair discrimination, the situation needs to be addressed through various measures, such as legal remedies etc.

South Africans need to make peace with their differences. We may look different, have different abilities and circumstances and earn different incomes. Yet we are all the same. True equality means that we celebrate our diversity, while we treat each other with equal respect. It extends beyond circumstances and has to do with the way we treat each other. Even though we are different, we need to treat the next person as dignified. For equality equals dignity…

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