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Natural Living – Equality vs Uniqueness

I know I am getting into a highly controversial and politically hot potato topic on this issue. But I think it’s time we show the courage to come out of the ‘politically correctness’ phenomenon and confront this vital issue.

Much has been written and debated on the issue of and the need for equality – be class equality, gender equality and so on. So much so these are considered largely untouchable and any deviance of views is considered heretical.

Nature and equality

How does the concept of equality hold in the natural realm? Firstly, let’s start by reiterating and understanding the fundamental principle of nature, which I talked about in my blog on Diversity.

It’s fair to say that the other side of diversity is uniqueness. Thus, each person is unique (uniquely gifted, talented, abled, and so on.), each natural entity (be it a human, plant or an animal or an eco-system and so on), is unique and different. This uniqueness is the basis of natural diversity of mindboggling proportions.

Can unique entities be equated?

Can apples and oranges, men and women be really equated? Forget that, can even two apples or two orange trees and two men or two women be equated? How can unique entities be ever compared and equated? Isn’t it a basic folly to do so? If yes, where have we gone wrong? Is the basic human desire and inner quest for fairness and justice, for peace and non-violence, for empathy and community – from which the quest for equality stems wrong? Certainly NOT. This is what makes us human and whole.

Is equality the means of achieving these ends?

This is where I beg to differ. I think, that while our intentions and motivations have been right, we have gone wrong in equating these virtues with equality. Equality is fundamentally in contradiction with natural uniqueness and diversity and hence not the right lens to look at the issue of fairness, justice, peace, co-existence and community. Two individuals, two genders, two societies are unique and different.

Any effort to equate them will destroy their very essence and make them lose their natural identity and their core essence, their life force.

Comparing the incomparable

Also, this concept of equality is again strongly associated with the rise of the modern (western) civilization and the commercialization and monetization of everything that stems with it. It is from a monetized worldview that concept of equality and inequality are derived in comparing essentially incomparable, unique and different entities, roles, type of work – each unique, essential, important and critical from a societal point of view. Examples include a home maker vs a working woman, manual work vs mental work, and so on.

Our modern concepts of one size fits all approach to education and health care also stems from such a worldview. In most ancient societies and even today in tribal communities (who to a great extent retain their indigenous culture and value system) such comparisons and judgements were and are never made. A warrior, a home maker, a hunter gatherer, an agriculturist, a skilled handicrafts person, tribal chief – all have their unique and critical roles to play.

Each role is important as without it the community cannot function effectively.

What we are doing is essentially confusing fairness and lack of discrimination with equality. To a great extent this urge for equality in modern society emerges from the real evils of widespread discrimination, oppression, injustice and extreme disparity that stems from the modern capitalist-imperialist-neoliberal social and economic model that we have adopted.

Commoditization, monetization and hyper individualism of every aspect of modern society, has created a crisis of identity, a loss of rootedness and a sense of community, and destroyed all sense of collaboration replacing it with a culture of cut throat competition, pitting us against each other.

An illusory solution

A blind drive towards equality is not going to solve our problems. It is being fostered as a superficial illusory solution, distracting us from the core issues and fault lines that have landed us in the current mess. Let us examine how this is being driven.

A modern woman is being increasingly objectified and commoditized through a cultural model with an underlying economic motive while being driven on a mirage of equality. She is told that its fine to be reduced to an object of male desire, a pure commodity, in the name of modernity but working as a homemaker (a role so critical, productive and important to a healthy family and society) is unproductive and low grade.

A farmer is being driven on a trajectory of market driven cash crops, chemical farming selling him the illusion of acquiring a city like lifestyle, making him a slave of transnational corporations, in the process driving him/her into debt and pauperization, loss of land and migration to cities, loss of food and seed security.

A manual worker is projected as inferior and village life – working with soil is considered low grade, creating a strange phenomenon whereby even a village youngster who has studied till 7th or 8th standard aspires to migrate to a city and would not want to work on his own farm or learn his/her ancestral skills (handicrafts, artisanship) but would rather work as an attendant in a petrol pump, or a waiter in a restaurant or security guard in a mall in a city or a data entry operator in a cyber cafe.

Women leaders in the corporate sector end up losing their femineity, natural instincts and become a replica of the aggressive, self-seeking male leaders whom they try to emulate. One can go on and on; examples galore in every realm of our society.

Let’s focus on real issues and real solutions

It’s time we start facing the real issues that are plaguing our society and stop running after such mirages.

Instead what we need to focus on is rediscovering our basic human constructs, concepts and values (that have thrived since ancient times in all societies, but have been abandoned in recent times in our mad rush to ‘modernize’), of role and importance of community and common spaces; rootedness; valuing and fostering traditional skills and roles, cultures, attire, cuisines and languages; economic localization in harmony with the local ecosystem, fostering local markets and inclusive growth in a largely closed loop local entities; grass root democracy through revival of local democratic practices and models and so on.

Thus, valuing and fostering diversity and uniqueness in every aspect of our life – social, economic, political and cultural.

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