On Equality

On Equality

You cannot possibly claim that you love the postman as much as you love your mother [1].

It’s the dehumanization of people in some contexts that lead to equality. For example, when we are talking about policies in Hong Kong, we can of course take “left” or socialist approaches and promote greater equality, but only in this context where we put down our personal identity and engage in a more “objective” discussion about policy. At home, you still love your mother more than the postman.

The question is how much identity one is supposed to shred in a particular context, and how much identity one must retain.

It is foolish to start discussing about principles of equality without at least an implicit understanding of the context, and the purpose of the discussion. Take a hypothetical meeting in the UN. Let us presume that everyone there agrees that all humans are created equal (which is a fine assumption by me). Then why is there any reason at all for representatives to to represent their own country? Surely a Korean representative could apply such “theories of equality” and become as good a representative for Egyptians as somebody from Egypt, right?

The answer (for me at least), is that all people are biased to some extent, and we rightfully and proudly call this our “identity”. But to communicate with others, the discussion must be under a mutually agreeable context, in which case in the UN the context is formally the bunch of international treaties and a bunch of mutually agreed ideologies, one of which is of course equality of humans. It’s how we communicate, but it’s not a “truth”. We can pretend it is a truth during the communication (and we should), but it’s still not a truth. Its falsity is clear if you think about why you love your mother more than you love most other people.

The fact that people are discussing about some tragedy happening in Europe, instead of something we are acquainted with in Hong Kong, causes the context to become blurry and confusing, and it’s pretty much meaningless to discuss things that way. Who do you represent? From what perspective? It’s arrogant to claim that one represents “Truth”, even with the qualification that one may not understand Truth in full.

Why is this arrogant? It’s arrogant for our unelected officials and legislators to claim that they represent us. Thus it is arrogant for a random person, equipped with so called theories of ethics, to claim that they represent humanity. More-so to claim they represent Truth.

The humble position is to represent those who you can justly represent — you yourself perhaps; perhaps friends, family and like-minded people. Then we must let other people speak for themselves, and encourage them to do so, even if they may contradict us.

And *together*, as a group of many many “representatives”, this group might be able to approximately represent the whole of humanity, and as far as discussion goes, only such a group, collectively, could perhaps *attempt* to be objective and to be free from bias.

In short — yes we are biased, it is the source of everyone’s identity, and thus we’re proud of it. When we want to be free from bias, we let other people correct us. Being open to criticism is how we see people as being our equal, instead of making unfounded assumptions on other people to fit them into our worldview.

[1]: for those with matricide tendencies, at least they could agree that they hate their mother more than than they hate most other people


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