Do we feel equal to some – but superior to others? What do we base our assumptions on? Is there criteria we use to compare ourselves against others? And what makes up that criteria? Is it material wealth, social position, or maybe a level of personal power we have achieved? Do any of these things really make us superior to anyone else? If you strip away all the outer layers, underneath we are all the same. Every human being in this world needs love. They need a sense of belonging, a sense of self-worth, and they need hope for the future.

But how can you feel equal to anyone when you are trying to survive in extreme poverty? Without the very basics needed to sustain life for yourself and your children you feel despair, not equality. Being equal means that, although your life may be filled with disease and hunger, it has as much value as someone who lives a life of wealth and excess. It means your children, though poor and uneducated, are just as worthy of medical care as any child fortunate enough to have been born in one of the wealthy nations.

It doesn’t matter if you live on Central Park West or in Sub-Saharan Africa you must be viewed as an equal human being. This is the only point of view that allows for compassion no matter what a person’s economic status might be. Whether you are a billionaire or one of the billion living in extreme poverty you are entitled to the same rights. Until we, as a species, realize that we are all one humanity we will find it difficult to reach out to those who seem different from us.

If we carry the principal further it becomes obvious that, if we are all equal, we should share willingly with each other and take care of each other. This is why the concept of equality is so critical. It inspires us to act in a positive and compassionate way. Unfortunately, the idea that some are not our equals persuades us to look down on them, or worse, to ignore their suffering.

Equality is such an important idea and yet it is a concept many are still unwilling to embrace. As long as there are those who feel superior to others it will be a severe hindrance in the effort to save the lives of those in extreme poverty. Many people feel superior and yet they did nothing to earn this entitlement. They did not choose to be born in an affluent country. They did not choose their well-educated parents. They had no say in being born in a modern medical facility, and yet they feel superior to those who do not have these advantages of birth. That is why the belief in equality is so critical. It recognizes the humanity of the individual above and beyond anything else. There is no need for comparisons. No judgements. Just acceptance.

Nations with the greatest wealth and the most power have the strongest obligation to make sure that those less fortunate are treated equally. It is far too easy for the powerful countries to fall into a pattern of bullying those who are weaker. Those without a voice are easier to ignore. And when you are ignored you are not being treated equally. Equality has to be at the core of our national values. Without it we are doomed to repeat the past. A past filled with division and mistrust, a past filled with unnecessary suffering and disadvantage, a past where so many were left behind. But that does not have to be our future. We just need to learn from our mistakes. We need to learn to accept all people as our equals. We need to lift everyone up so that no one is ever again cast aside and forgotten.

Recognizing the equality of all human beings is the beginning of better understanding and tolerance between nations and cultures. It allows us to resolve our differences in intelligent and humane ways. It provides the ground work for humanitarian efforts. It increases the level of respect we have for others. It allows us to embrace the fact that all of us live together, at the same time, on this one small planet. Holding onto our conviction that all people are equal helps us appreciate what others can contribute no matter what their living standards might be. In essence, it makes the world a better place for all of us.



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