The Land Of Equality?
How’s this statement strike you?
“America is the land of equal opportunities, not the land of equal outcomes.”
When I first heard this statement, I thought it couldn’t have been more true. Then, as I’ve been marinating on it the last few days, I’m not sure if I find it more true, less accurate or far too simple to have a true/false definition.
A few hundred years back when the United States became the United States, I think it was truer than it is today. Back then, in an economy that revolved around agriculture, the #1 goal was to have enough food to stay alive. Simply having the freedom to farm one’s own crops and keep the total bounty of the harvest was something that was unheard of in the countries from which the new Americans had come. Then, everyone had the equal opportunity NOT to be taxed without representation. I suppose we still do, but any fool can look at taxes in the 1700s and see the Bible-ish manual that is the 2012 tax code. I don’t think today’s tax code could even be comprehended by the founding fathers.
Only the most blind and staunch fool could look at America today and say everyone has equal opportunities. Know why we’re not going to have the same outcomes? Because we’re not equal! Equality is simply impossible to attain, unless we want to give up our freedoms and move into a socialistic or communistic type government. Then, no matter what you do, you get the same thing as everyone else. I personally don’t ever want us to consider this notion. I really don’t think anyone with a brain DOES want us to get to this point.
How are we in America unequal? Simply count the ways. Some people are simply smarter than others. Yes, there, I said it. Some people are smarter. We don’t all start out our lives as a blank slate and our experiences fill in the rest. There are some folks who have brains that don’t function at the same level as others. Now, having inborn intelligence guarantees nothing. You won’t automatically become a millionaire because you can comprehend and recall information, but it DOES put you ahead of the curve.
Race. Simple stats will tell you the socio economic status of minorities is less than that of the majority in America. Sad, but true. When you’re born into a race other than white, just follow the stats; you’re less likely to have educated parents, you’re less likely to have the creature comforts of life, you’re more likely to be on government assistance, you’re less likely to go to college, etc. That is America in 2012. We all hope and pray and work for this change to occur, and it’s definitely better than 50 or 100 years ago, but we have a long way to go until it’s a non-issue. What’s the answer to how to accomplish this? There are many schools of thought; some in direct opposition to each other. I don’t know the answer, I just know the evidence.
Emotional intelligence: Have you studied EQ? Most experts agree that someone’s EQ is a greater positive asset than IQ. This is, the ability to adapt, communicate properly, listen and become self motivated towards one’s goals. This is an oversimplification, but you get the idea.
If you’re born with low IQ, low socio-economic status, and low EQ, are you screwed? Potentially. You’re certainly not positioned as well as, say, a child born in the middle class suburbs with a functional family structure and individuals who invest in the education and rearing of said child. But again, America is the land of equal opportunity, or so it’s said. Is this true? Maybe, but it’s awfully hard to pull yourself up by the boot straps if you’re born poor, with low EQ and IQ and have no one investing in your ability to succeed.
America is the greatest country on earth. At least, this is my opinion. I know many people wouldn’t agree with this. Some of the dissenters are even American. That’s fine. We have this thing called the First Amendment which entitles everyone to their own opinion.
Do we have equal opportunities? Well, if you consider living in a free society, yes. Do we all have the same educational opportunities? No. Even looking at the levels of quality in education in the public school realm, the answer is still no. Do we all have the good fortune to be born to stable, loving parents without substance abuse issues or any mental illness of their own? Obviously not. Do we all live in communities with a determination to see each individual reach his/her potential? Not even close.
Some of this is luck. Some is positioning. Some is social engineering. Some of this is purely based on one individual encouraging us to train harder, study more, push ourselves to our personal best. But, that’s not the majority.
Can we fix these inequalities? I don’t see how we can be sure every child is born into a loving, compassionate home which helps that child become all he/she can be. And that, to me, is at the heart of why we’ll never have equal opportunities, much less equal outcomes.