The Hypocrisy of Equality

“But I have long known that the talk about Brotherhood, wherever it occurs, in America or here, is hypocrisy. Or rather, the man who talks it means ‘I have no superiors’: he does not mean ‘I have no inferiors’. How loathsome it all is.”

–C. S. Lewis

EqualityBehind much of our talk about equality lies hypocrisy. When we talk about equality, we should mean that we have no superiors and no inferiors. Others should be to our right or left; not above or below. What we usually mean by equality is that we should have no superiors. No one above us; plenty below.

We demand equality in our jobs, our government, our society, and among our friends and family. These demands for equality are no more than demands to be at the top, to have no one above us, with no concern about whether others are beneath us. This is startling, and it has tremendous implications, since selfish ambitions are camouflaged by cries for equality.

Another implication is this: much of the anti-authoritarian rhetoric heard in every corner of our lives is really an objection to someone else being in a position of authority. The problem is not with authority; the problem is when you are not the authority.

Let me give an example of hypocritical equality from church life.

I know someone who complains that his church’s decision-making process needs to be more open to the average church member. The church leaders should not be dictators. It is not fair, he he thinks, that the average person is excluded from the process. There are no distinctions among Christians, after all. We are equal. One.

But this person is over an area of his church’s work, and he refuses to let others have any say in it.His ideas are the best. He dislikes sharing control or letting others have a “vote.” This is his ministry, he thinks.

Notice: he demands equality in areas he has no power, but resists equality in areas where he has power.

Similar situations occur in our jobs, the government, our society, and so on.

And this can help us understand why so many political movements begin with equality and end with oppression. They wanted no superiors. They didn’t care if they had inferiors. This is what they meant by equality, as Lewis mentions. No superiors. Plenty of inferiors.

You must examine your view of equality. If you only talk about equality or invoke it when you are not wielding the power, then chances are your idea of equality is hypocritical.

And hypocritical equality is not equality.

That’s the danger of it. That’s the importance of what Lewis has pointed out.

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