Nothing being equal

We hear about equality a lot.  Everywhere, in fact.  We want it.  We seek it.  The plain and simple truth, though, is that it doesn’t exist in our imperfect world.  Now, does that mean we can’t achieve anything?  Certainly not!  Quite the contrary!  It inspires creativity!  For example, equality definitely doesn’t exist in the climbing world.  Take gym routes and problems, first of all.  If the person who set the route or problem can send the route or problem, it must be doable, right?  All things being unequal, that’s a false assumption.  Or is it?  If a person a foot shorter was asked to do the same route or problem in the exact same manner as the person who set the route or problem, inequality would rear its ugly head and probably shut the shorter person down.  If, however, we allow the shorter person the option of using their own beta and what works for them (and they are a proficient enough climber), success can be acheived by both!  Now, were their ways of ascending the route or problem the same?  No.  Therefore, they cannot be equal, either, unless we set the definition of equality in terms of success in sending the route or problem.  That’s a trap, though, because it may have been much more difficult for one of those people to send the route or problem than it was for the other.  That’s not equality.  Therefore, equality is a construct with many components and moving parts that must be considered carefully, and at the end of the day, it’s just a word to make us feel better about something in our lives.

That’s the power of positivity at work, and creativity’s power as well.  It’s okay!  Equality is not value (or lack thereof)!  The person for whom the ascent above was easier for is no less valuable, nor are they any less of a climber, than the person for whom the ascent was more difficult for.  They were just different.  “So,” you argue, “these people are equal in value.  Equality does exist.”  I would answer that argument with the simplicity of my position in life: it is not for me to judge that.  A person’s value is intrinsic as a human being.  A living thing’s value is intrinsic as a living being, no matter whether we’re talking about amoebas or elephants or ferns.  I can’t judge the equality of these lives, if equality does indeed exist.  All I can do is treat every living thing with dignity and worth as a living being, and hope at the end of my life that it was enough.  If equality exists anywhere, it is in the mind only.

I say that because let’s compare a fern and a human being for a moment.  Or a mushroom.  Let’s go with mushrooms growing out of horse dung compared to a human being.  Are these lives equal?  Most would say not.  But what if an outbreak of a horrible pandemic arose, killing millions in hospitals, and it was found that that mushroom growing in the horse dung had antibiotic properties that could cure that disease?  Would the mushroom then be worthy of your attention?  Now, what if I told you that’s a true story?  It is.  They did find a new antibiotic in mushrooms growing in horse dung (and only horse dung) in Northern Europe a few years ago.  This antibiotic is now being used against MRSA (Multi-drug Resistant Staphylococcus aureus).  So, again I say that equality, if it exists, is only in the mind because it always depends on the circumstances and who you happen to be within those circumstances…

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