I became an expert in women’s rights and sarcasm at the tender age of ten. It was quite easy to be one for both when growing up with an older sister. Whenever I was with her, I would see everything split right in the middle. One half for me, One half for her. When it came to washing dishes, I had two plates, two spoons, two forks and she had the same. When it came to a Nestlé Crunch Bar, I had the C-R-U and she had the N-C-H. So when it came to carrying groceries, I was under the notion that we would continue to follow the by-laws of our unwritten brother-sister constitution. I soon learned that this notion was a wrong notion and that the aforementioned constitution was as good as a three peso coin.
(I originally used “two peso coin” for this statement but those actually did exist. Send my regards to my KASPIL professor.)
I was left holding two plastic bags as my sister walked ahead of me with her arms swaying freely. My mother began to explain to me why I had to carry more bags than my sister. Her lesson was one that took many years to get across my head. Maybe because I was too busy trying to reason with her with an argument that featured words like “injustice” and “unfair”.
I look back at that specific day and it reminds me that my mother never raised me to be the kind of person that treated all people the same way. My mother never raised me to believe in equality. Instead she raised me to be above all that.
I believe the definition of the word equality has run far away from the intentions of the people that use it. It is a poor and difficult message to adopt despite its ease in proclamation. Although I do not believe in the unnatural sense of equality, I do not dismiss completely the problem it attempts to address.
There is this misalignment in our thoughts when, for example, a man disrespects a woman. We should not be thinking that this is wrong because a woman should be treated equally with a man. Instead we must recognize this as wrong because we, ourselves, would not want to be disrespected like that. When somebody is oppressed, we should not be comparing their situation from that of their oppressor but of our own. This is what we should strive for; this sense of reciprocation. Equality is just a knock off of that.
I cannot support the fact that it seems robotic for us to treat people a certain way for equality’s sake. Where has our sense of judgement gone that can be used to act as good people beyond all that? We must peel off this fake wrapper from us and not be scared to learn the limits of our kindness. Equality is not the genesis of good deeds but a bootleg.
Although you would be hard pressed to find a substitute word as catchy as “equality”, it is my humble opinion that that word belongs in our math books, not in our advocacies or speeches. The only thing that word will do is bring us much closer to a dystopia where everything is yellow and the only thing on T.V. is The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In all its irony, I will attempt to clarify with a riddle: You stand at the start of a long line of different people. In front of you are 100 grocery bags that need to be brought home. And for this challenge an unseen voice will answer only one of these two questions that you are allowed to ask.
“How many can I hold” or “How many people are in line?”