The subject of equality of all people in the United States is stated in the American Declaration of Independence which declares that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Long 17). Nevertheless, this founding ideal has been undermined by other revolutionary events and realities in history. Capitalism and its accompanying ideals have also affected the American Dream because the pursuit of individual happiness always collides with the interests of others. The idea that all Americans are created equal is subject to other accompanying ideals including equal rights and opportunities for all. Consequently, some individuals have raised the issue of whether creating equality by giving some individuals or groups special privileges coincides with the notion that all people are created equal. The concept of Affirmative Action is a good example of how special rights and privileges are accorded to selected groups and/or individuals under the ruse of upholding equality for all. The tug of war between the concepts of equal treatment and equal opportunity is evident through various civil and governance issues in the United States. It is difficult to achieve equality of all individuals considering that people are fundamentally different but individual and communal efforts towards this goal are always fruitful.
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The achievement of equality among all individuals is difficult considering unification is a slow process. The complexity of equality is captured by Erin Kaplan’s article “Barrack Obama: Miles Traveled, Miles to Go”. Although inequality gaps have been bridged in the United States, this process has taken a considerable amount of time. The journey towards equality of all people involves configuring various points of view to consolidate them. However, people are fundamentally different and sometimes it takes a generational change to realign a certain source of inequality in the society. The author of the article on Obama reckons that sudden change can have a negative effect. Kaplan quotes Obama saying that sudden social change “feels like getting a shot of pure oxygen when you’ve been breathing bad air for so long, the good stuff almost kills you” (Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle 540). The same concept applies to equality. In the course of human history, no society has been able to achieve the ideal equality of all human beings. On some occasions, some civilizations have come close to achieving equality of all individuals.
The journey towards equality of all people is just as important as the achievement of this goal. For instance, the American society has achieved considerable gains from the need to achieve equality of all. For example, some individuals from minority races have accrued several benefits from Affirmative Action initiatives. Some of these individuals have gone ahead and made notable improvements on the American way of life. It is almost impossible to align society with the idea that ‘all people are created equal’. However, the desire to get to this point will yield various benefits along the way. Kaplan notes that even although an African American is the President of United States, this is not an indicator of equality between white and black Americans. This notion is underlined by the fact that there are still various inequality factors within the African American community. The fundamental differences between individuals regardless of race are good indicators of why it is difficult to achieve absolute equality.
The psychological aspects of equality indicate that the concept that all human beings are created equal might be a mirage. In the article “Cause of Prejudice”, Vincent Parrillo attributes lack of equality in the minds of various individuals to a combination of social and psychological factors (Colombo, Cullen, and Lisle 504). Human psychology affects both the people who regard themselves as ‘equals’ and also the individuals who feel ‘unequal’. The psychological undertones of equality of all people are dominated by feelings of inadequacy on one side and the need for some individuals to downgrade others to feel important on the other. Consequently, it is important to track the factors that lead to psychological differences among people who are supposed to have been created equal. Parrillo argues that prejudice and its accompanying psychological aspects can be carried from one generation to the other.
However, the author reckons that it is difficult to access the origins of prejudice regarding their effects on equality. Achievement of equality is subject to various social, psychological, and economic factors. The concept of equality of all people is dependent on the unification of all these factors. However, various people have different levels of economic, psychological, and social aptitude. On the other hand, individuals and/or groups tend to use the resources that are in their disposal to suppress their competition. For instance, individuals with ample economic aptitude tend to use this advantage as a basis for prejudice. The competition for economic resources can also be used to propagate inequality. Consequently, people with limited economic resources have both socio-economic and psychological disadvantages when it comes to equality. It is difficult to achieve equality because various individuals have different levels of psychological threshold.
Several natural attributes among human beings undermine the concept of equality of all. For instance, various individuals have different levels of talent and interest. Consequently, there is a paradox that indicates that to achieve equality, it is important to take note of the uniqueness of humanity. Experts have argued that “the glory of the human race is the uniqueness of each individual, the fact that every person, though similar in many ways to others, possesses a completely individuated personality of his/her own” (Arneson 81). When pursuing the equality of all people, humanity’s fundamental differences can be used to negotiate for resources. For example, the disadvantages or advantages of certain groups and individuals should not be used to suppress others. An example of how the uniqueness of humanity can be used to negotiate for resources involves people with disabilities. The disadvantages of people with disabilities should not translate into advantages for the rest of individuals and vice versa. This concept also applies to capitalism, which is the most dominant force in the modern world and the leading cause of inequality. The popular notion is that “in the capitalistic society the superior men know no other method of utilizing their superiority than to subdue the masses of inferior people” (Rothbard 85). This notion is difficult to maneuver in the quest for equality of all individuals.
Absolute equality of all individuals has never been achieved in any society and the American one is not an exception. However, individual and concerted efforts towards equality of all people can yield various benefits along the way. It is almost impossible to harness the psychological capabilities of individuals in the efforts to eliminate prejudice and achieve equality. Furthermore, the journey towards equality is slow but its achievements can easily be seen when a member of a minority population is the President of the United States.
Arneson, Richard. “Equality and equal opportunity for welfare.” Philosophical studies 56.1 (2009): 77-93. Print.
Colombo, Gary, Robert Cullen, and Bonnie Lisle. Rereading America, New Jersey: Bedford Books, 2003. Print.
Long, Roderick T. “Liberty: The Other Equality.” The Freeman 55.8 (2005): 17-19. Print.
Rothbard, Murray. Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market, Auburn: Mises Institute, 2009. Print.