According to Wikipedia ‘Equality’ is defined as:
Social equality is a state of affairs in which all people within a specific society or isolated group have the same status in certain respects, including civil rights, freedom of speech, property rights and equal access to certain social goods and services. However, it also includes concepts of health equality, economic equality and other social securities. It also includes equal opportunities and obligations, and so involves the whole of society. Social equality requires the absence of legally enforced social class or caste boundaries and the absence of discrimination motivated by an inalienable part of a person’s identity. For example, sex, gender, race, age, sexual orientation, origin, caste or class, income or property, language, religion, convictions, opinions, health or disability must absolutely not result in unequal treatment under the law and should not reduce opportunities unjustifiably.
Read this definition carefully. Does this describe today’s America? I think not. Our Declaration of Independence boldly asserted that “All men are created equal”. What has happened? Race, culture, sexual orientation, and religion are all sources of bias and discrimination, even violence. Bigotry seems to be on the rise. Nationalistic movements and populism are on the rise. Gun violence motivated by strong discriminatory views is much more common. This is truly sad and alarming. The fundamental premise of our democracy – equality – is under attack. Our political process is so polarized that it is becoming stagnant.
So what is the root cause? Clearly we can site many contributing factors, but it is unclear that we can pinpoint a root cause. It is clear, however, that there is a lot of stress in our society. Stress that is threatening our family welfare and our local communities. Much of this stress is financial in nature. We are seeing the loss of well paying middle class jobs, stagnant wages, under employment – all while the aggregate numbers point to national economic growth. Wealth is being created but primarily for the financial elite. Most of us view the system as rigged and unfair. We reach for someone or something to blame. We revert to tribalistic instincts. Our normally suppressed biases come forward. We blame. We treat others unfairly. Social equality, the heart of our democratic system suffers.
It took a while to get here. It will take a longer while to reverse the trends. One thing is certain, however. Our capitalistic system must be bridled so that wealth is more equitably shared, the huge gap in financial means is moderated, all of society can feel and enjoy a sense of making progress for self and family. This must start with a reexamination of government policy. This can only happen if we select and elect right minded representatives. This, in turn, means that we all must get more politically aware and active.