Posted by: JDM..... | August 4, 2016

ONE category of human being…

with 7 billion unique versions….

One Bill of Rights, 324 million equally qualified beneficiaries………..I’m neither the first one to say it nor is this the first time I have said it myself, language is one of our greatest barriers to peace and harmony. It isn’t guns, Liberals, Democrats, conservatives, Republicans, spics, niggers, kikes, chinks, the rich, the welfare community, or any of those that are the only things to get more index finger time than the average human nostril.

First of all, language is an imprecise tool for communicating, even between individuals who know each other quite well. My wife and I have been married for twenty five years, we are “best friends,” and hardly a week goes by when one of us doesn’t wear that blank look and say “What do you mean?”

What am building up to is saying without reservation that one of the most misunderstood and miscommunicated words in the English language today is “equal” and its several cognates such as equality, equity, equalization, and so forth. We are not equal. People, even identical twins, are not, and cannot be equal. Different individuals interpret and understand “equal” differently, and in the political arena, it goes downhill from there.

Politics dominates the air like low tide in July, generating many exchanges regarding preferred interpretations of “equality”. I saw a comment on line the other day that inspired my thinking about this topic. A young woman was angrily insinuating that females, people of color, and several other prime qualifiers were treated unequally because of their unique claims of identity. Think about that for a moment. Not quite O’Henry, but delightfully ironic. We see this often; someone roars about their unique qualities which they believe entitle them to special consideration, yet in the same sentence will rail against being treated differently than the average non-affiliated person. She had demands about “equality”, yet was immovably adamant that white males did not, and cannot, get it. What does she want? What do the other people with similar views want? Of equal importance, potential pun acknowledged, how do other people interpret and respond to what they are verbalizing?

Since this is my rant, that is probably about as much leeway as I am going to grant those who fit the profile to which I will be alluding here. Essentially subjective comments ensue.

No See-Saw stays level for long

We are not equal. On some as yet unknown sub-atomic level, perhaps there is a state of pure “equality”, but we’re not talking about physics or even philosophy. Ask Stephen Hawking about such things. We’re debating the meaning of “equality” in the context of a society, a culture, personal experience, and dozens of other factors that may affect an individual’s concept of self and how he or she compares or relates to others. Trying to select and sort the factors in some meaningful arrangement and of standardized measurement and valuation is like trying to pick the winning lottery number, except with a lottery there is a genuine possibility of picking the right number. In the drama of humanity: whenever someone comes up with “the” answer, the question changes.

Demands for equality are unrealistic and misguided, not necessarily because they are unreasonable but because of the difficulties inherent to the process of whittling away the material that doesn’t belong and arriving at a finished product that represents the nearest common denominator of our maximum concessions. Imagine a dozen people given one block of wood, some tools, and tasked with creating a sculpture that is satisfactory to each. That sculpture is entitled:

EQUAL

One concession that has not yet been seriously considered, apparently, is simply accepting that we are different, We do have unique qualities. We simultaneously admire the exotic and covet the qualities therein that we believe give the exotic an edge. I think most understand that, but the ones in the media give the impression that they might have confused equal with identical, need with merit, want with deserve. Revisiting Stephen Hawking for a moment, I think some believe they live in a quantum universe, wherein if they say they want to be somewhere, then they are, if they want to be something, then they are.

The human species has survived for a rather long time, in spite of our penchant for not playing well with others and recreational homicide, so it is clear that concession is an actively practiced social skill. It is, however, quite rudimentary in that we clearly still prefer killing each other, literally or symbolically.

Perhaps we, as a species, are maxed out in our ability to simultaneously compromise and play King of the Mountain.

Athletic competition is as old as conflict, perhaps initially born as a natural animal process of determining pecking order and so forth. Perhaps it grew out early methods of training for organized fighting among groups. Eventually, it came to actually replace battlefield “combat”, an interesting development of “concession” and “compromise” that allowed our predecessors to retain the requisite violence, while reducing the level of mortality involved in conflict resolution. Well, this occurred in some circles, but not all, and the “give me your stuff and your obedience or I’ll kill you” gene is still looking for an acceptable mutation to try on.

Mankind saw birds and wanted to fly, and the species decorated many an escarpment with its physical essence before someone invented aeroplanes, a reasonable and universally accepted substitute for the unachievable Real McCoy, and significantly less fatal.

Similar adjustments need to be made in the way people are learning to coexist in a world that has metaphorically “shrunk” while the population has grown without sacrificing our individuality, and without enslaving or killing each other. There have been estimates offered that 8,000 years ago, there were about 5 million people on the earth. Wow! Everyone had his or her own 7,360 acres! By the time the North American continent was being infested with Narcissistic colonists, it had jumped to anywhere from about 500 million to about 578 million. “America” had about 4,700 people in 1630, but, of course, “people” referred to Europeans. Depending on where one looks, estimates of aboriginal peoples would be an additional one million to 18 million.

I researched the following for my grandson back in 2010 and still find it interesting:

When my grandfather was born, the population of the United States was 50,189,209. There were only 38 states in the Union then, and the US Cavalry was still fighting with the Apache, Sioux, Nez Pierce, Cheyenne, and other native peoples of the far west.

There were no automobiles, airplanes, radios, or televisions. Goods were transported by horse drawn wagons, rail, or by sea. Although steam was coming into use on the ocean, sailing ships were still the primary vessels of commerce until after my grandfather finished school and began his first job. I recall one of my grandmothers remarking how she found it amazing that she had gone to school in a horse drawn cart and did her homework by the light of a whale oil lamp, yet lived to see the television broadcast of a man walking on the moon. A lifetime can seem rather short when we look at it from a different perspective.

Try looking at it this way:

  • When my grandfather was born, the population of the country was 50,189,209.

  • When my father was born, the population of the country was 100,546,000.

  • When I was born, the population of the country was 138,397,345.

  • When my daughter was born, the population of the country was 205,052,174.

  • When my grandson was born, the population of the country was 303,202,683.
    The population of the USA this morning was about 309,620,000 (2010 figure. The current 2016 figure is 324, 158,869).

Or, how about this?

  • The World population when my grandfather was born was about 1.4 billion.

  • The World population when my father was born was about 1.8 billion.

  • The World population when I was born was about 2.4 billion.

  • The World population when my daughter was born was about 3.7 billion.

  • The World population when my grandson was born was about 6.65 billion.

  • The World population today is about 6,854,834,551 (6.85 billion).

Remember the estimate of 5 million for a world population ten thousand years ago? We’ve gone from that to 7 billion in 10 thousand years

The world population was still less than a billion when the Colonists said sayonara, and few other things, I’m sure, to the British back in 1776. It has grown more than 614% since then. No wonder things get noisy!

How about population density? Using the present day 7 billion population figure and the 197 million square mile estimate of the earth’s surface, there is a “mathematical” density of 35.53 people per square mile. Start subtracting uninhabited places like Antarctica and the middle of the ocean and that figure quickly jumps to 130 and more. The numbers aren’t really important, though. What is important is that even when there was only .03 of a person per square mile (odd, I shouldn’t think .03 of a person would be much more than a smirk before the fact), they’d find something to disagree on, so it is no wonder we have problems today.

Not that everybody is running around in loincloths carrying bludgeons and looking for somebody to talk to about Jesus, or oil, or anything else like that. An awfully large number of people are really basically OK. The fact that John may annoy his neighbor Bob doesn’t mean diddly squat, unless, of course, Bob happens to be one of the rest of the population who I haven’t talked about yet.

Again, I’m not trying to suggest that anybody is defective just because I find it in my heart to critique their lifestyles and favorite vegetables (more O’Henry), but they could be. They also could just be deeply concerned about personal space and personal safety in this bumper to bumper universe. Methodology is everything. Some people measure the integrity of their personal space by measuring the integrity of their personal space, and assess their personal safety by assessing what everyone else is doing. Some measure the integrity of their personal space by checking the “infrastructure”, though I haven’t a clue what that metaphor refers to. Basically, I guess, they assess their own well being by assessing their own well being. Safety, of course, requires awareness of one’s surroundings and those who pose a threat, but there are 7 billion other people on this rock and that’s a lot of other people’s business to keep track of. Various counselors and other mental health professionals are afforded a lucrative market by those who assess their own wealth by checking to see how much the other guy has in his pocket. Nothing new. I’m sure the Shamen, et al, of yore were similarly engaged.

Things are decidedly different in some respects, though. Being afraid the nut-ball in the adjoining cave might make spaghetti out of your head with a rock is a little different than worrying that some schmuck in a knock-off Giorgio Armani suit made out of C-4 might decide to shop at your favorite mall.

***

Okay, Tipperary and my original point about communication and the word “equal” are both a long way off, so perhaps I should return to the business at hand, though I believe my meanderings do serve to set the table, so to speak.

So, equality as we know it is the flattened quiche of good intentions. This much misunderstood quality refers, in the Constitution, to the equal RIGHTS of all people to the benefits laid out in that document, and equal ACCESS to justice and to the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution of the United States of America doesn’t say pfffft about hurt feelings, insults, No Child Left Behind, or any of that home made horse puckey. Besides, what if some Child didn’t want to go in the first place? Offering a leg up to someone in need is an admirable quality; turning it into a career can be indistinguishable from exploitation. It is opportunity that is promised, not achievement, not a shortcut, not a free pass. Achievement, like eating, is a first-person activity.

Along those lines, we have a sub-population of people who really believe they have the right and an obligation to micromanage my life, and everyone else’s, for the “common good” or some other such Neolithic rationalization for taking control of the galaxy, usually for a lucrative fee and generous retirement benefits. Sometimes just because of some compulsion to “count coup” or act out some other pathology on friends, family, and anyone else who fits the need of the moment.

Humanity is not likely to play nice with others as a species characteristic any time soon, and certainly not if self-anointed Play-Nice Police grab those who don’t know their Company Song by the throat to “teach” them. We may evolve into it some eon down the road, but I really would prefer that the peers among whom my descendants dwell carry a gene that thinks it’s a dandy idea to help out the neighbor in need of some help as well as the gene that tells them that nothing else about that neighbor’s life is any of their goddamned business.

 

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