People are unequal and we should not treat them equally.
What is equality? Equality is a state in which every living person is given the same number of opportunity to vent out their ability to its fullest, regardless of gender, race, wealth, religion, and so on.
However, in the world of capitalism and libertarianism, people cannot be equal. Each person is born with different amounts of wealth and contrary aspects both physically and mentally, no matter how much people fight for equal human rights. There is an increase in reported racial discrimination cases, and still women in South Korea are less employed than men.
Capitalism was adopted by the government as a means to motivate people into working harder.
Nevertheless, both the government and its people should attempt to bring equality into the world. Wealth and power is given to only a selected few; yet the ownership of a nation is not only given to those in the upper class. If people were not given the same amount of opportunity to be equal, the middle and lower classes would eventually accept reality and not try as hard at their jobs as the upper class. In consequence, economy would fall, because there is a limit to how much the wealthy and the powerful can run the world. Furthermore, the wealth gap would be widening more than ever, resulting in stagnation and imbalance.
Equal opportunities encroach on almost every aspect of our daily lives. How we respond to this interaction is dependent on many factors. From birth, we are subjected to an oppressive environment that has been in situ since time began. This has been perpetuated by countless generations as the norm. The upbringing and environment people have will determine how attitudes and opinions are formed. This is not to say everyone is not capable of change though. Equal opportunities are not just about individuals it is also about countries, institutions, governments and companies implementing policies. It is not about politics or legal terminology. It is about fairness, it is about treating every one the same way irrespective of their background, gender, race and social status. It is about making sure opportunity is presented to the individual in a fair manner. In trying to achieve these measures as individuals we must continue to reflect on the language and labeling we use and how we interact with other individuals.
Equality can be found in every part of modern day society. However, it will be shown that far from being enshrined in UK legislation and company policies. The truth is, equality is far from the ideal place envisaged by members of our society. Equality in the workplace is controlled by the new Equality act (2010). This places statutory obligations on employers to treat their work force on an equal footing. This is intended to make sure everyone who is employed by a company has the same opportunities regardless of age, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The act goes on further to cover disabilities, gender reassignment and religious beliefs.
The new legislation has drawn wide criticism from leaders of the business community and even church leaders. A small number of Anglicans Roman Catholic bishops have stated they could be prosecuted under the new law if they refuse to allow married men, transsexuals and gay people into the priesthood. Cathnews.com (2009). The UK governments own impact assessment has indicated the cost of implementing the act will cost some £190 million pounds. Equality impact assessment (2009). In an interview with an 18 year unemployed service user at the Runcorn branch of the Y.M.C.A, Kyle stated he felt he was discriminated against because every time he applied for jobs he was forced to put on the application form where he resided. As this is a hostel, he felt his application was always discarded as he was never invited in for an interview.
Racial equality is a belief that individuals from a different racial group are equal and in no way inferior. Racial equality in the UK has undergone many changes in law since slavery was abolished in 1807. People with a different ethnicity have always been oppressed in the UK purely for the colour of their skin. Punitive punishments for people who abused Black people have long been the norm. Industrial tribunals throughout the country are still hearing racial discrimination cases on a daily basis. Race discrimination cases have risen from 4,100 in 2007/8 to 5,000 in 2008/9 and 5,700 in 2009/10 Employment Tribunal and EAT statistics (2009-10) (GB) This trend can clearly be seen as a rise in cases being brought before the tribunals. In another interview with a service user from the Power House Foyer in Toxteth Liverpool. Nmono an asylum seeker from Uganda explained how she felt when trying to access medical services in this country.
Nmono stated she had difficulty in trying to make her needs understood because of the language barriers. As already stated before equality is an everyday part of our existence in society today and a great deal of attention is paid to this part of our lives. Equality in the domestic home is rarely looked at or does it receive any attention in law or government policies. If we look at the Victorian model of a home we can see that the husband was expected to work, and the wife was expected to stay home. The female of the house was also expected to cook, clean and care for the husband and children. Very much as it remains to date. Inequality in the home has many downsides to it. The marriage will not be an equal partnership. The female could feel undervalued, and this in turn could lead to low self esteem and the eventual breakdown of the relationship.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s story, “Harrison Bergeron,” everyone is made equal by the United States Handicapper Genera1 while the country is under totalitarian control. Handicaps are forced upon the people by the Handicapper General to create an all-equal society. The character George Bergeron is forced to stay equal by the government’s laws of equality while his wife, Hazel Bergeron, is of only average intelligence, and consequently not given a handicap. Their son, however, has broken the laws of equality and is fugitive of the United States Handicapper General. The conflict between the United States Handicapper General and the Bergeron family helps to establish and develop the theme of a false perception of equality. George and Hazel Bergeron help to establish the theme of the false perception of equality in the society: “George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear” (1200).
The handicap radio sends sharp noises ever few minutes to break his thought process. This handicap stops George from having an advantage over anyone in intelligence. George is also forced to wear a handicap bag around his neck to make him weaker: “She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George’s neck” (1201). In the eyes of the society these handicaps make him equal. His wife Hazel, however, does not have a handicap that she is forced to wear: “Having no mental handicap herself” she is already average, so there is no need for a physical or mental handicap (1200). The story explains this, “Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts” (1200).
Hazel and George are a clear example of why there is a false perception of equality in the United States. George is forced to wear handicaps that make him weaker and unintelligent, but Hazel does not have any extra weight to make her weaker or loud noises in her head to break her thoughts of thinking. This shows that George and Hazel are not really equal because even though George no longer has an advantage over Hazel, she now has an advantage over George. She is not confined by the Handicapper General like he is, but is free to go about her day naturally, while he is confined to an inferior quality of life. This false perception of equality allows for the government to rule without obstruction or protest from their citizens because they are more intently focused on building a community that is better for all and less focused on the tyrant government that now exists in the democratic country. Their son sees this tyranny and causes heart ache for the citizen and the government.
George and Hazel’s son, Harrison Bergeron, develops the theme of the false perception of equality. Harrison Bergeron knows that he is unequal and rebels against the government, so that he can take over and become Emperor: “Nobody had ever borne heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up” (1202). He is required to wear more constraining obstructions because the government is in fear of a rebellion, but even with the stronger handicaps Harrison is able to escape from prison and continue his plot to overthrow the government.
As Harrison barges into the theater with all his handicaps on he says, “Even as I stand here crippled, hobbled, sickened-I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become” (1202). Harrison knows that the society’s perception of equality is false, and he proves that the handicaps really don’t keep people equal. He can see while still wearing his handicaps that he is stronger and unequal to everyone. This causes him to be feared by the people in society and seen by them as putting them back into the “dark ages” (1201).
The handicaps are effective in causing the false perception of equality because the government is able to use fear to force them upon the society. When Hazel tells George to take a few of the pellets out of the bags so that he can rest, he decides against it because of the government’s punishment. George says, “Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out” (1201). The Handicapper General has placed this law in order to make people fear the thought of breaking the system of equality; she has done this by integrating fear into the people’s mind by use of brutality. When Harrison is dancing with his Empress the story says, “Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor” (1201).
This is symbolic to the theme because by killing Harrison the government shows that they are in fear of people seeing the false system of equality that has been instilled in their minds, and ultimately of losing control of the people. It can be inferred that Harrison knows that the only way the government can make people believe in this false perception is by fear, and Harrison uses this sense of fear to his advantage. As Harrison walks through the doors of the theater it says, “Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die” (1202). Harrison knows that he is feared because of the government’s negative image of him, and that he has the power to rebel. He says, “I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once” (1202).
When he makes this claim nobody dares to challenge it, but instead they acquiesce to his demands. In the story Harrison says, “I shall now select my Empress” (1202). Harrison’s influence affects a ballerina to accept the role of his Empress: “A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow. Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all, he removed her mask” (1202). This shows that the ballerina knows that she is not equal and that she is able to get up and act out against equality while her handicaps are still in control. This is meaningful because the handicaps are not what keep the citizens from acting out, but the governments use of fear does. Harrison takes the handicaps off the musicians and tells them to play their best, so they do as they are told out of fear, and because of the desire to become “barons and dukes and earls” (1203).
The ballerina, the musicians, and Harrison all have the desire to break free of the government’s false perception of equality, for they acted out of accordance when given the opportunity without fear of punishment In the story the government has created an all-equal system in order to control society and to stop any chance of revolt. The government has clearly succeeded in their goal of brainwashing Hazel and George into believing in the system of equality even when it clearly has major flaws. Vonnegut’s point to the story is that Harrison has fallen short of the government’s accord causing chaos and proving that an all-equal system exists only for totalitarian control. The irony is that the gifted individuals are given handicaps and the average people are left free of any constraints, and the truth is, that within the equal society inequality is the sovereign.