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Equality And The Loss Of Identity

January 17, 2021 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

Philosophy is not the exclusive province of the specialist. It is for every thinking person. The problem lies in the fact that so many people do not know how to apply philosophy. Consider the notion of equality, for example. Many think that it is a free-floating value that does not require being rooted in something other than itself. As a result, they apply equality willy-nilly to areas where things are not equal. The unfortunate consequence of this reckless application of equality is, in many case, the loss of identity. In this sense, therefore, applying equality where it does not belong can be destructive.
Equality is justified when it is anchored in truth. At mealtime, servings of food should be proportioned to each individual at the table. The child and the adults will not have equal amounts of food because their needs are not the same. The truth of each individual is the measure of how much they will eat. Likewise, clothing is tailored to fit the size and shape of the body. Just as not everyone will eat equal amounts of food, not everyone will wear the same size clothes.
Detached from truth, equality is fit for mayhem. Consequently, it is now politically correct to hold that same-sex “marriages” and traditional marriages are equal. In the Revolt of the Masses, José Ortega y Gasset spoke knowingly about the “sovereignty of the masses.”
Being in love with equality while rejecting truth is like wanting a car but not wanting to pay for it or hoping to become a doctor but avoiding medical school. Truth is the justifying source for equality. Equality is not self-justifying. This, one might think, is a simple enough principle, but it has remained elusive through the ages.
Voltaire, in the eighteenth century, saw fit to distinguish equality from various forms of inequality that are mistaken for equality by offering a statement that should be regarded as a model of irresistible common sense:
“They who say all men are equal speak an undoubted truth; if they mean that all men have an equal right to liberty, to their property, and to their protection of the laws. But they are mistaken if they think that men are equal in their station and employments, since they are not so by their talents.”
The distinguished legal scholar, Robert H. Bork, observed how such personally identifying characteristics as status, talent, and achievement were being sacrificed on the altar of radical equality:
“The sixties rebels attacked hierarchies and lines of authority resulting from merit and achievement. They wanted parity with the faculty, an end to grading, admissions on the basis of race, and the right to participate in the governance and alteration of academic institutions they did not understand and would be in for only a few years.”
The immediate consequence of such radical egalitarianism is the loss of identity marked by personal achievement, status, and special talents. The distinctions would be obliterated between teacher and student, artist and pedestrian, the ruler and the rule. Parity might be a good ideal for the National Football League, but when it is applied to all human beings it abolishes what makes them distinct and reduces them to the lowest common denominator.
The zeal for equalizing virtually everything became entrenched in the minds of university students to the point that they regarded it as a self-evident first principle. Philosopher professor Allan Bloom, author of the best-selling The Closing of the American Mind, pointed out that “[I]t is almost inconceivable to them [university students] that there can be a theoretical questioning of the principle of equality, let alone a practical doubt about it.”
From a commonsense point of view, we should rejoice in the fact that other people do any number of things better than we can do them ourselves. Personally, I am both indebted to and grateful for athletes, musicians, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, engineers, writers, doctors and nurses who are better than I am in their respective fields. We are equal as human beings but unequal in talent and achievement. To allow radical equality to blot out personal accomplishment represents a terrible loss for all of us.
Nonetheless, the siren song of egalitarianism continues to mesmerize people who think they are being progressive. As the new year of 2021 rings in, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is praising a new proposal that would “honor all gender identities by changing pronouns and familial relationships in the House rules to be gender neutral.”
Thus, gendered terms such as father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, husband, wife, etc., would be removed. In their place would be such terms as parent, child, sibling, spouse, parent’s sibling, and so on. A husband loses his identity as a husband and become his spouse’s spouse. An uncle ceases to be an uncle as he becomes related to his sibling’s child. Likewise, an aunt also metamorphoses into a person related to her sibling’s child. Nieces and nephews disappear. A mother-in-law dissolves into a parent-in-law.
Pelosi regards this language change as “bold.” Others may view it merely as a cowardly capitulation to political correctness. She also hails it as “visionary.” Yet, how “visionary” is it to become blind to the distinctions between husband and wife, brother and sister, uncle and aunt, nephew and niece? In addition, she lauds it as “transparent.” What seems to be transparent is transparent nonsense. The new language would bring about a loss of specific identities such as mother, father, brother sister, husband, and wife.
God and the Catholic Church ask us to be saints. The saint will not compare himself to others who may not have reached a level of sanctity, but he will acknowledge that thanks to God’s grace, he is a better person than he once was. Here is an inequality to paves the road to salvation. Being bold and progressive means being more holy. To remain equal with one’s self is to be sterile. Life demands that we become a better person today than what we were yesterday.

  • + + (Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University, a senior fellow with Human Life International, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College. His book Why I Am Pro-Life and Not Politically Correct is posted on Amazon.com, as are many of his other works.)
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