The three underpinnings of a happy society

Equality, Fairness and Justice

Growing up I recall how strong my sense of justice, right, and wrong was. The basics of a desire for equality is present in most young children in rather stark outline, until it becomes an understanding honed with experience and reflection.

Nowadays I still feel the same passion and fire for equality but have learned how complicated that issue is; what seems like justice for one can seem very unfair to another.

Equality is the goal that we should all strive for in life. My sense of how important this is for everyone came from my experiences growing up when there was blatant inequality in our family. There were hierarchies everywhere, favourites, those singled out for praise and those for denigration, or to be the scapegoat. Such inequalities distorted all the relationships and left them vulnerable for breakdown in the future, which of course they all did, or mostly anyway.

Inequality is an attitude or a judgement wholly based on dualistic thinking and perceptions, good/bad, right/wrong etc. It is all based on an illusion that is both immediately harmful and divisive but also can create serious long term damage to both individuals and the whole planet.

We, and everything else that exists, are all equally necessary as component parts of the whole of life and everything. Without one single part being present it is not complete or whole, that is why nothing is ever destroyed or created, it is just transformed from one set of molecules and energy to another grouping or format.

Creating hierarchies within the whole oneness is missing the point of oneness, but hierarchies are the basis of inequality.

Equality can be a perception or a reality. For instance the very real lived experiences of those in slavery, whether present day or historical, is a very real experience of denial of humanity and disempowerment based on a total absence of any equal consideration given to them as those imposing their condition would expect for themselves. It is a mindset of exploitation and inequality, of absence of respect and compassion.

One part of me is horrified that this is still true in modern times and that we have learned nothing from history, and another part of me understands that this comes from an experience where they have not been socialised or taught to hold all livings beings, human animal, plant, or mineral, in equal respect and veneration.

This single attitude shift would change everything overnight. It would end all forms of discrimination, abuse, exploitation, destruction, crime, unhappiness. It would enable everyone to live co-operatively and supportively, no-one wanting more than they actually needed, no- one wanting somebody to suffer so they can have a larger share.

Equality means power sharing, which is where it sometimes turns into a struggle. And we are all different in life, so some people want or cope well with power and some are just not bothered.

Power brings with it responsibility but it is equally open to abuses. Those who seek power are those most likely to also abuse it, as has been shown repeatedly throughout human history, especially political power because that brings with it power over so much else, including the law and resources.

Human society works best when we self-impose restrictions that prevent any individual having too much power or freedom to do as they want. It is the ‘what they want’ as opposed to ‘what they need’ that is the problem. Wanting so easily becomes a bottomless pit of more, more, more, at any expense, and that will mean less, less, less, for most other people and also habitat destruction, and speciesism, as we can also see throughout history of humankind.

Too much power leads to corruption so quickly, most of which is easily concealed and not even recognised, because that is too much responsibility. Big business has persuaded successive governments that they need de — regulation and de — restricting in order to run a healthy economy. And yet instead of a healthy economy where everyone benefits we see increasing exploitation, insecurity and human rights infringements for those who are not the ones wielding this power. Humans need to have their power controlled by the greater masses to stop this perversion of potential occurring.

Equality is utopian but not impossible. It is a matter of education. Humans are encouraged - in the societies where neo-liberalism and the capitalist mantra has taken hold too strongly — to be self serving survivalists and to see other humans as competition instead of co-operative support systems. Yet human survival on the planet in our early years only occurred because we used co-operative strategies to outwit the enormous odds stacked against us as a species. The ‘other humans as competition’ paradigm leads to fighting over resources in both global scales and also familial levels too. Yet there is actually enough for all if we just learn to work co-operatively. There is no need to hoard if we all agree to care for each other collaboratively, we don’t need rainy day savings because someone else will take care of us on the rainy day when we are too weak or old or sick to make our own contributions.

Equality for me is a passion because I can actually feel the suffering energy in the world as much as I can feel the joy and wonder of it all. It is a deep sadness because we all miss out so much on the beauty of life and human potentials by creating these false hierarchies. And we hurt our own kind in the longer term too, we hurt them badly, our descendents, our grandchildren will look back on us and shake their heads in wonderment that we were so blind not to see how simple equality is, how liberating and loving and supportive and enriching. If you asked me whether I wanted to be richer or for more people to have a better share — I would choose the latter, which is why some of my books are also fund raisers for those suffering inequality the most.

Please if you read this- just think about how equality could improve your life and all those around you, and please do a little think that makes it more likely to become a reality too. Think how happy that would make you too. Because my early experiences of being at the bottom of the heap weren’t very nice, and now I am closer to the top I can’t stop thinking about how the others still down there are feeling, right now.

Written by

Mindfulness teacher, poet, author of ‘The Well Mannered Penis’, ‘No Visible Injuries’, ‘Living Well and Loving ADHD’ ‘Julia’ and others.

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