Privilege and Equity

Posted on January 31, 2021


This is going to be a thought piece which some of you may like and some may dislike. But I compose it with the old rules in place: we can disagree on just about anything, but we agree to listen to each other with civility, and usually reach an accord or compromise.

There are however some moments in American history where we disagreed with much rancor and hostility, much like today, and failed to reach some sort of understanding or agreement or compromise. The issue, slavery, specifically black slavery, ran too deeply in the psyches and sentiments and principles of both the abolitionists and anti-abolitionists, and the result was war: the American Civil War.

That the hostility and suspicion which prevails today between the two poles of politics in the country, far left and far right, does not bode well. But the issues are not so deep as slavery which was imbedded into the “Southern way of life” and the abolitionists of the North, such as the Quakers, who saw slavery as an abomination against God that had to be destroyed, not reduced or altered or somehow preserved, but destroyed.

Today the issues are ideological which I’ll not name or list or even analyze at any length, especially in a short Op ed when scores of books, essays, articles, podcasts, twenty-four-hour newscasts, social media outlets which give just about anybody a voice in the public forums, and more. We can hardly escape it and as it bombards us, our good will and Christian civility (not to even mention the central principle of Christianity, love) is eroded into near non-existence.

In this unrelenting war not only of words, but warring actions, a couple of words kept popping up in my thinking. One was privilege and the other equity, like in the threesome that characterizes much of what the Left throws up as a principal principle: diversity, equity, and inclusion.

What do these words play in our history and why are they important to consider, and perhaps even understand, and even further, explain how they help explain what’s happening to us.

Privilege was a word attached to the nobility of Europe who lorded it over the rest of the people of the nation, especially serfs and peasants, yeomen farmers, small merchants, anybody who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They, along with the kings and queens, the monarchs, controlled the wealth and power of the nations. They represented maybe ten percent of the population. They were, in the language of the times, “privileged” by birth to power, property, and station in the nations.

The American Revolution got rid of titled nobility in the land. All men were endowed with the same rights, to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a felicitous phrase that largely meant property in its broadest sense. Let me make sure you understand Jefferson’s meaning. ALL men. Now, of course there was still slavery in the land, women did not have suffrage and did not count the same as men in the acquisition and manipulation of political power, and there were all sorts of differences between then and now. But privilege as a right of birth was gone.

Today the phrase “equity” means that all men (and of course now we include all the girls, racial minorities, ethnic minorities, and every other term invented to describe an immensely diverse people, from the LGBTQ community to the transexuals, etc.) have the same rights (according to the Declaration of Independence, they do) AND the same privileges.

Let’s be really clear here. The modern left has extended this to mean that all people have the same right to all things, whether in the nature of power, privilege, economic status, ethnic equality, and so forth. Or, let’s look at it a bit differently. Instead of all men having the same rights and opportunities which Jefferson and his cohorts meant—access to political power, the vote, the right to assemble, the right of free speech, the right to make money, etc. etc.– now all are entitled, a form of privilege, to all things.

Put aside the old standards of hard work, saving, self-reliance, inventiveness, study, devotion to excellence, etc. Today, just like the privileged nobility of the past, everyone has access and is privileged by equity to all things. Gone are the defining characteristics of freedom, liberty and self-reliance for example which gave ALL people (especially of course after the Civil War and after the Civil Rights period of the 1960s) the right to COMPETE for all things.

Now, by virtue of the new definition of equity all are privileged to enjoy everything, bestowed upon them by a benevolent government which will secure for all people the same rights and the fruits of their accomplishments which came to them in the past from WORKING for it. This, by the way, is the theory behind socialism and communism: the government, staffed by the party (only one party allowed), controls everything from politics to the economic engines of society. See China for a pretty successful model of the latter (economic successes) and Venezuela for a lousy model (almost bankrupt and empty grocery shelves). And both are excellent models of the single party theory of controlling everything from politics to family life. Let me emphasize everything comes under government control.

So today we have a new “privileged” class. Not the old nobility who were born to power, wealth, and privilege, but a new nobility, described by the principle of equity, which basically contends that all people should be the recipient of all things, especially those who haven’t “made it” in today’s world, usually blamed on their birth, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual choices or other characteristics now applied to break down the human race into its many different parts.

Let me give you one example. Boys and men who choose to identify as girls/women now are allowed to compete in women’s sports and absolutely ruin the sport for girls because men are by nature stronger and faster than girls. What happened to the differences between them, which springs from nature and is confirmed by Christian principles? No more. ALL people, either identified by birth, or by choice (“I think I’ll be a girl today mom”) are now privileged by equity and affirmed and protected by government. Guess who’s coming into your locker rooms girls?

We are in fact NOT all the same. Our society is immensely diversified, like all mankind, or human beings if you are offended by the word man to refer to all people. We are gifted differently by our God who views us with the same love and compassion for all of us. Let’s be clear and not invite some comment, “well that’s a contradiction Larry, we can’t all be the same, and be different at the same time.” To which I answer, work on it. Expand your mind beyond your politics. The world does not turn around your political ideology. It turns around our God who embraces us all the same, even though each of us is different. All Jesus asks of us is to believe in Him and our beliefs and faith will lift us up in so many ways. This is not a course on Christianity, but you Christians know what I’m writing, and if you are still in doubt, get yourself into a good church, a good Sunday school class, a good “small group” in the new argot, and begin.

What is the answer to all of the above? Let me return to the “old school” way of working through problems and issues. Don’t bite off my head and insult me for speaking what I consider to be the truth. Let’s talk. Let’s get together and speak of these issues. Let’s listen to each other. If you think the privileged of the past (nobilities and monarchies) and the privileged of the present (equity as the doorway to privilege) is better than a free people, self-reliance, personal responsibility, liberty, and so many factors that have made us an “exceptional” nation, then let’s talk and listen to each other, not yell, shout, cast aspersions, accuse, and ultimately turn to the streets and assault, riot, burn, and kill policemen, whether it is in downtown Portland or at the Capitol in Washington. We did this in the past and it led to the Civil War in which more soldiers on both sides were killed and wounded than all the other wars combined until the Vietnam War. Haven’t we learned our lessons?