I was in an interesting conversation with someone a while back and we started having a discussion of is everyone equal. I claimed that some people are more awesome than other people, and she argued, no we are all the same. I never was able to clearly articulate my position, so I’m hoping that writing this will help me clarify my thoughts.
Google “World Gurning Championship,” and you will find a competitions in which contestants compete to pull the most hideous face through a horse-collar, by contorting their face. The outcome of this championship provides us with the World (not so famous) Champion of Gurning.
So I ask you. Who is more important, last years winner or Bill Gates, who has created a legacy program encouraging other ultra-rich people to pledge half of their fortunes to charitable causes, like a cure for diseases that kill people?
Who is a more amazing person?
If I had to vote, I would vote for Bill Gates. But let me bring in another thought that we have discussed in the past, and that we all intrinsically know to be true.
Every person is equal. There is no such thing as a person who is more of a person than another person. We are all just…people. Just like there is no better dog than another, they are all just different types of dogs. I know that I am no better than anyone else, and hopefully you do to.
So which is it, we are all equal or some are more equal than others?
The basic answer is that there is a dichotomy between value from a societal perspective and an individual perspective. From a societal perspective, some people are in fact more awesome, or of value than others. However, as an individual we know that societal norms are actually arbitrary and defined by society, whereas individual values, are self-defined – and we may or may not agree with societies definition – and therefore no person is more awesome, or of value than any other.
Of course, societal norms are so ingrained, it is often hard for us not to be impacted, which we see manifested in the individual as situational anxiety, self-worth struggles, and choices surrounding friends and marriage compatibility.
However, perhaps by keeping in mind that we are all the same, and creating our own definition of awesomeness we can better keep all of this in mind as we work our way though life.