You’re cruising down the highway, you see a car impatiently dart out from an on ramp to pass what appears to be an extremely slow moving vehicle. What that car failed to realize is there was a huge truck going easily two times it’s speed coming down that lane as well. The trucker actually accounted for this before the car moved and started to move into the other lane knowing that other cars would need time to get over. It gracefully avoided the car that would have gotten rolled over in an instant. As you pass by the trucker you throw a thumbs up out your window and pump your arm. She blows the horn a couple times and off we go.
Different cars with different drivers are similar to different people with different thoughts. Some of us are big, some little, some fast, some slow. Each of us have our own abilities and vulnerabilities.
In today’s society (heck in all eras of society) cries of equality, of justice and fair treatment are regularly made, but what is ‘equal’ or ‘fair’ is never agreed upon. Some people think it’s fair for a transgender woman to compete physically with a biological woman. Others say it’s not fair. Some say it’s fair to try a 13 year old as an adult; some say it’s not fair. There are an infinite number of situations like this, and so how do we resolve it? Just accept that we will never all agree?
Something that has started to come around more is the concept of ‘equal outcome’ vs ‘equal treatment’. Which is a reasonable way of looking at things, much more so than simply ‘everyone is equal’. However, the thing is even equal treatment may need to be clarified. We don’t treat an underage child the same as an adult in most cases. We don’t treat someone who stole from a bank the same as someone who donated to a charity; or someone who deliberately hurt someone else the same as someone who deliberately saved a life. If we think of that carefully, demanding anything equal is suspect at best.
Of course, those who disagree with this way of thinking likely have good points as well. The concept of equal is supposed to be applied to laws or rules right? Things that society requires to conform or be constrained in an organized way, so we aren’t just hurting others or taking advantage of others.
We could say the majority of people likely want to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, in the eyes of the rules. But the law even in America is not based solely on rules, or doctrine. There is a human with a gavel, there are juries with subjective opinions, who have their own concept of what is appropriate or not. Does it work well in many cases, yes definitely! But is it always right? Definitely not. Equality in this scenario is subject to the perception of rules, and the perception of those who are in a position of judgment.
For better or worse, what seems to be the outcome is that ‘equal’ isn’t the right word. Because it has to capture an essence that isn’t equal in the most basic sense. We want equal treatment given the appropriate situation and factors; all the while knowing that no one’s situation will ever be exactly the same. The way we have to apply laws, rules given every possible situation in a way that is reasonable, will never be exactly equal. Maybe one day we can rely on impartial robotic, decentralized judgment of situations, but until the kinks are worked out, we can only rely on each other.
While we may not be able to get ‘everyone’ to agree, I think there is something that the vast majority can agree with and that is, we all should be treated justly. We should stand for justice. Even if that justice is interpreted differently by everyone, we should do our best to recognize everyone’s differences, work together to find to the best version of justice possible given these differences; given that we are not equal, we are human.