The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal

The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.Aristotle

All over the world, girls chat and boys play in mud. Didn't you?

What does that mean?
For those who never had two or more dogs, this might not make much sense. But if you ever had more than one dog at the same time, you know that there is no such thing as equal dogs. One is always first. If you try to greet any other dog first, there will be trouble. You cannot make unequal things equal no matter how much you might want the to be.

While humans have this idea of equality, in the real world, equality is rare. Have you ever found two rocks that were the same size? Same weight? Same composition? Not all that common, is it? While it’s in our best nature to try to make people equal, they are all unique and, by definition, unequal.

Why is inequality important?  
While the thought of inequality may cause us some emotional discomfort, it is true. How would you make a professional athlete and a couch potato equal in sports? You can only try to pull the athlete down to the level of the weakest person. This is the basis of the Kurt Vonnegut short story “Harrison Bergeron“. Even the cursory synopsis on the Wikipedia page can make you revile the idea of forcing everyone down to the same level, just to make them all equal.

There is beauty in symmetry, and we use it in art and buildings. We try to make things equal, but it doesn’t always work. Especially not with living things in general, and humans in particular. We can all start from an equal starting point, but some will work harder, some will work smarter, others will find short cuts, or just get lucky.

Equality of opportunity is difficult to achieve, but it is (in my belief) a worthy goal. Equality of outcome is impossible to achieve without reducing everyone to the level of the least successful person. Equality of misery is all that will be achieved in this manner. Inequality is a necessary part of life.

Where can I apply this in my life?
In the past week or two, there have been a number of stories about how the holiday season toy sales have prompted a number of manufacturers and sales organizations to adjust their methods. Some are trying to make gender neutral toys and toy areas, while others are working on separate lines for boys and girls.

I don’t know about you, but to me, there’s not much in the world that is as different as little boys and little girls. When my brother and I were young, my parents got concerned about all the ‘Cowboys and Indians’ games we were playing. So they got us a farm set, complete with cows, horses, fences, and buildings. Before the day was out, the cows had declared war on the horses and the fight was on!

While my daughter is quite the tomboy, there are things that are too ‘boy’ for her to be interested in. There are factual and documented differences between the male and female of the human species. Trying to make them equal, well that’s just not going to work. Each of us is an individual, each with different wants and needs.

For those who have kids, do all your kids have the same bedtime? The same chores? The same privileges? If you don’t have kids, apply the same questions to when you were a kid. How unequal was that? Even kids that are the same age can have unequal levels of responsibility. What is the proper way to deal with that inequality?

Where in your life to you try to make unequal things equal, and how can you best deal with the inequality? That’s the hard part, at least with people. You will have to try to balance the needs of each person with your abilities. It sounds difficult, especially with children, but you probably already do it quite well.

Consider your friends. Are they all equal, or do you have a best friend, some almost best friends and other friends? How do you treat them when you are together? Are they equal, or do you treat them unequally? You give each the attention the relationship requires, and you give what you can to each in an unequal manner. Somehow, it works, as they are still all friends, right?

There isn’t any exercise with this post, but there is time for plenty of introspection. That is the true purpose of this blog, to get you thinking, to examine how you live your life. To consider what you think is best for you and for those around you, then live the best life you can.

From: Twitter, @AncientProverbs
confirmed at :
Photo by  ePi.Longo


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in beauty, effort, friendship, ideals, integrity, sympathy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal

  1. Pingback: In our quest for happiness and the avoidance of suffering, I believe we are all fundamentally the same, and therefore equal. | philosiblog

  2. philosiblog says:

    Turns out this is another misattributed quote. See 3rd entry at for details.

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