As a boy interested in history I was enamoured by the words of the second paragraph of the United States Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal...."
About a year back I was having lunch with a mentor when I mentioned this as being something I was struggling with.
"Why", he said.
"Well, it's not true. People aren't equal. For one thing, people aren't paid equally. And some people have terrible disease or poverty to deal with while others have enormous wealth & great health right throughout their lives" came my reply.
My mentor took a bite of his steak and stayed silent for some time. Then he spoke: "It says created equal not always will be equal."
It was at this point that I realised my perspective had been entirely wrong.
From that conversation I came to understand that "equal ain't fair". I came to understand that the CEO and the homeless woman are equals but their income & circumstance is not fair. That the suburban office manager and the refugee are equals but there is no fairness in their individual lives. That the school teacher and the stock broker are equals - their reward, though, is not fair.
I guess what had kept me optimistic over the years was the belief that we, collectively as a society, were working towards making equal more fair. But the older I get I'm not so sure that this is true.
We continue to allow CEO & Executive salaries to be 10, 15 even 20 times more than average wages. We strip billions of dollars from Aid budgets. We incarcerate women & children on island prisons. We let more & more people sleep rough on our streets.
Maybe that's just the way it has to be? Maybe fairness is the price we pay for the ".... certain unalienable Rights, .... Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness....."?