EspañolImagine the following scene: you wake up one morning, just like any other morning. You’re the same person, with all of your knowledge, memories, and experiences, but in this world, you find yourself once again in a natural state of mind.
Everything is foreign to you: every type of technology, every building, each mode of transportation, all means of communication, the various medicines, etc. There is nothing except the clothes you slept in and what’s inside your head.
I started thinking about how long I could survive with just my own knowledge. Not very long. And how much could I contribute to this world? Even less. I wouldn’t be able to write this article, because I wouldn’t know how. I wouldn’t know how to make a pencil, nor how to obtain the paper on which to write. Don’t even start with a computer. There’s no Google to help me figure it out.
The truth is, as overwhelmed as I am by technology — cars, planes, vaccines, microwaves, buildings, elevators, etc. — I live my life without having the slightest idea of how these things work. I treat them as if they are just facts, like geography.
Let’s return to our imaginary trip to the Stone Age. Let’s suppose that I have at my side Henry Ford, Ben Franklin, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, and so many other brilliant minds that have contributed to mankind.
Now, the million-dollar question: would you want them to be exactly like you? Or would you be thankful for their differences? Would you demand equality? Or would you, while preparing them a fire, beg them to invent once again everything that made life simpler, safer, more efficient, more comfortable, and more entertaining?
There are no two persons alike in this world. Each one of us is created in our own makeup, with our own natural variables. That’s neither bad nor good. It’s neither fair nor unfair. It simply is.
To equate something is to modify it. It’s easy to see in the equation: If 4 ≠ 2, in order to make them equal, you must subtract one from four and add it to two to achieve 3 = 3. The same happens with people. In attempting to provide equality, guess who always ends up losing?
The person that has to give something up, hand it over, or make it go away by some form or fashion in order to make themselves equal to the person that doesn’t have the ability or motivation to develop (except at the cost of someone else).
It’s difficult to find speeches or passages from uniquely gifted men and women clamoring for equality. In general, those that demand equality are those that want to take something from someone else. This demand for equality usually comes with a big romantic, idealistic, and benevolent red bow on it. However, making exception for those innocent few, it actually hides two characteristics: resentment and hypocrisy.
The resentful person thinks that he or she doesn’t have anything to offer the world, therefore they are deeply bitter toward the person that has something good to give. The unique greatness of this person makes the resentful one feel small and worthless. The resentful prefer that no one be recognized, and attempt to create an environment where no one can apply their skill.
Remember the million-dollar question above, the resentful person would respond: “Yes, I prefer that they are just like me. I want them to live without cars, ice cream shops, light, and music. I want a miserable world, one where no one lives better than me.” There are plenty of examples of this resentful person in our Latin America.
The hypocrite is a sly one (to put it nicely). Even though the hypocrite tattoos his chest with images of Che, and spews from his mouth words of adulation for Fidel, he wouldn’t live in Cuba or in Venezuela. Instead, the hypocrite lives in a society that allows for the existence of a Ford and a Steve Jobs; he lives in a place where the products and services of these great minds are offered. The hypocrite then claims his right to a part of something he or she never created, insisting on its distribution.
The hypocrite doesn’t say, “Listen, Mr. Ford, given that I can’t be as productive as you, please stop being so productive, so that we are the same.” No, instead, the hypocrite hopes that Mr. Ford makes a ton of his product, and then wants a cut later. Given that he or she can’t sever off a piece of Ford’s brain or cut off his particular skill (and the hypocrite no longer would dream of something so noble or romantic), they sever off the product derived from that brain or skill. As defined, it’s the same. It’s even better, because the other person already did the work.
Listen to the speeches of Argentina’s presidential candidates; listen to the speeches of Pope Francis; listen to the screams of union members; listen to the better part of the world, and you will hear voices of the “Hypocrites Club,” with more members than any group in the world.
Ironically, both resentment and hypocrisy mask a significant dose of perversity. While the first tries to liquidate these unique minds and skills, the second wants to rob them.
However, there is a third claim for equality. It is the only honest and legitimate claim of its kind: the demand for equality under the law; a law whose only function is to guarantee the respect for the right to life, liberty, and property of all individuals, no matter their differences.
When the law is not used to protect these rights, but rather to protect certain groups; when the government legally robs a “four” and gives it to a “two” in order to make them equal; when the phrase “where necessity exists, so does a right” starts to be part of the political discourse, you can be sure that your life is in the hands of the resentful or in those of the Hypocrites Club.
It’s equality before the law and the respect for individual rights that has allowed people, with their differences, to flourish and create the enormous amount of goods and services we use today, luxuries unobtainable in the past. It certainly hasn’t made us equal, but it has allowed all of us to have a better life. Inequality may even be better.
But, who cares? If Jobs (may he rest in peace) has 100 and I have 10, is it not better if we both just have three? Because, rest assured, when the government tries to make us both equal to 50, three is all either of us will end up with.
Fortunately, my trip to the Stone Age was only imaginary. I can write this article on my computer from my house, knowing that it will be published when I have finished it, thanks to the internet. Later, I’m going to microwave my food for one minute, and then take a hot bath just 10 meters away. Tonight, I plan to watch The Voice, and enjoy the distinct and wonderful voices of others with my two sons, whom I had by Cesarean section, without thinking about if I would be able to survive the birth or do so without an ounce of pain.
Clearly, I don’t want equality, nor do I want to claim my right to someone else’s mind or skill. But, I will certainly demand equality for everyone before the law. Because of the law, the differences and skills of others have made my life, and the lives of the greater part of mankind, worthy of being lived.