Conversations with Fear

Equality: January 25, 2001

      "I want to begin with a question," said Fear with a smirk.
     "What is it?" I asked.
     "If you have a philosophical insight during one of our conversations and your wife isn't there to hear it, are you still wrong? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Ohhh, ha, ha, I slay myself!"
     "I would that were true!"
     "Well, ha ha, you don't have to get in a snit. We're going to talk about equality, aren't we?"
     "Yes, and I must admit that your joke was pretty good."
     "Thank you. Thank you. But why are we even talking about equality," asked Fear. "There's no such thing."
     "We're talking about it because you said last time that you would choose the subject. But why do you say there's no such thing?" I asked. "Are you sure?"
     "Of course I'm sure," replied Fear. "After all, real equality is based on true impartiality, which is something you people are patently incapable of. You're strictly subjective creatures who insist that you can be impartial and, therefore, objective. That you willingly believe this lie is why you're so easily dupe by someone like me, who's truly impartial. As I've said before, people are ruled by emotions and their discomfort with their emotions, which is the cost of subjectivity—a deliciously human trait from my point of view.
     "I can tell from your face, that you've doubts about what I've just so generously imparted. Then consider this. A man's view of the world tends to be egocentric in that a man protects the ego-self as his identity. A woman's view of the world, on the other hand, tends to be relationship-centric in that she protects her relationships as her identity."
     "For once, I actually agree with you," I admitted. "True equality neither does nor can exist in the human mind. And because it can't exist, it can't be defined."
     "Do my ears deceive me?"
     "No, Fear, your ears don't deceive you. I really agreed with you."
     "Well then, I guess this conversation's over. Chow!"
     "Not so fast," I said grabbing Fear to prevent its leaving. "When I say there's no such thing as equality, I mean there's no such thing as equality of choice, which, after all, is what equality is. Anyone who's married knows that at some level of his or her being. But…"
     "No equality of choice? " roared Fear with glee. "Well glory be! There might be hope for you yet!"
     "Don't count on it, Fear. Just because I said there's no such thing as equality of choice, doesn't mean one person has the divine right to ride roughshod over another."
     "Well, what does it mean then?"
     "It means that we must be one another's keepers when making choices, that we must compromise our behavior when we can without compromise our principles of being, such as our integrity. And in means that we must be as compassionate as humanly possible in the choices we make because, while  you can be ignored and thereby overcome, there are many people who are incapable of ignoring you."
     "I should have known you'd use compassion to twist a knot in my tail again, whined Fear.
     "Ignore me!" I just got that! That's what you do, huh—ignore me?"
     "Of course. Why do you sound so surprised? There's more to this discussion than you think."
     "Well, what about compromise?" challenged Fear. "If I compromise, I lose. What about you? Don't you lose too?"
     "Not necessarily. Sometime a compromise works out extremely well for both parties without much sense of sacrifice. At other times, both parties have to give a little more. If the compromise is good, however, everyone gets some of what they want, but no one gets everything."
     "That's not the way I remember it when you were forced to resigned from the government to keep your precious integrity intact," said Fear pointedly.
     "True, my honor, which includes my integrity, is a gift I must give to myself because no one else can give it to me."
     "That may be so," grinned Fear in triumph, "but what did that do for your wife? She was exceeding angry and scared when your paycheck was suddenly cut off. I remember, she rushed to visit me that day—and for many weeks thereafter. Where's the compromise and compassion in that?"
     "There was none because I was put in a position of no compromise if I was to be true to myself—and you know it!"
     "Are you sure?" asked Fear with a sly 'I got ya' grin.
     "Of course I'm sure! After all, I have to live with myself—she doesn't! Zane lives with me by choice, and I live with her by choice. I, however, have  no choice but to live with myself! If I don't give myself the gift of honor, then I will no longer have any self-respect, and what good would I be to anyone, myself included, if I have no self-respect?"
     "I see your dilemma," said Fear with mocked concern.
     "No you don't, because I neither had nor have a dilemma. I resigned without giving it a second's thought because it was the right thing for me to do."
     "So, you didn't even care what Zane thought about you for throwing away your secure, cushy, government job, just like that? And against her wishes too!"
     "Let me explain it this way, oh cynical one. I had a job in California a year ago in which I had to appear before an audience of environmentalists who didn't like the decision I and my colleagues were about to make concerning a large timber company. At one point in the discussion, a woman in the audience said: 'Chris, we have you are a pedestal down here; so you'd better be damn careful what you do because it might alter the way we think about you.'"
     "Well, go on! What did you say?"
     "I just paused to see if you were even listening since your eyes were closed."
     "Imbecile, I was listening like some of the Japanese do, with my eyes closed in concentration. You should know that; you've worked there. So get on with it! What did you say?"
     "I told her that I didn't care a whit what she or anyone else thought of me, but that  I cared very much what I thought of me. She, however, miss the point and repeated that I'd better care; whereupon I replied that I didn't care because the moment I cared, I was for sale—and I can't be bought."
     "I suspect she wasn't overjoyed by that statement."
     "No, she wasn't, but I felt great!"
     "Ya, you would. Just like you did when you dashed your wife's sense of security in a tug-of-war with me."
     "Remember, I joined that tug-of-war myself for a while because I was suddenly without a job and without a single prospect. But we've made out okay—and without your help, thank you.
     "Now I want to ask you a question, although I think I know the answer. Were you the author of the inequality that seems to afflict humanity?"
     "No," answered Fear, "but I wish I were because it's pure genius and fills the realm of my kingdom with an endless supply of subjects. But believe it on nor, the inequality you people so often rail against is a gift from Love."
     "That's not the answer I expected. So you better explain."
     "No," said Fear, "I didn't think it would be. Explain, huh.
     "Well, let's consider the world's burgeoning human population. As you well know, family planning and growing more food are not the answers to population control because you men effectively deny the vast, vast majority of women in the world the right of personal choice. That's the single greatest problem in the world today—men enslaving women to satisfy their overweening egos and sexual urges, the consequense of which are too many unwanted children who will simply repeat the cycle when they grow up—if they do. And because women are treated as though they are little more than beasts of burden and sex objects, the politics of food, through which power-hungry men starve women and children into submission, seems quite natural. In other words, there currently is enough food to feed everyone for now—if it were fairly distributed."
     "Again, I find myself agreeing with you, because every country I've visited in which women are given opportunities more equal to those of men—by which I mean being given opportunities to be valued for doing something besides just having babies—they have fewer children and have them later in life. But how does Love fit into this?"
     "If everything were exactly equal," began Fear, "how would evolution take place? Look at the gridlock in your Congress. The more 'equal' the respective party representation is, the more gridlock there seems to be. Therefore, a wise committee chairperson has an uneven number of members in his or her the committee—note how I accomodate you with 'his' or 'her'—to ensure there's a tie-breaker, which, incidentally, is one of the roles played by the vice president of the United States."
     "I can see that, but I asked you specifically how Love fits into all of this."
     "I getting there," replied Fear a little testily. "Love teaches that all beings are equal before The Eternal, which is a higher sense of equality than you people seem capable of dealing with."
     "So, will you get to the point?"
     "I was just pausing to let my words sink in because you already have the answer, but you don't know it."
     "I have the answer? What answer?"
     "You come at me now and then with the sickening notion of compassion," said Fear shaking its head, "but you don't really know what it means. Well, compassion is the gift Love has hidden within the notion of 'inequality.' If everything were truly equal—which means women and children with you men, and you men with one another—there would be no way to teach compassion. So you see, inequality is the circumstance through which compassion is taught. Now you know! By the way, I chose this conversation, and I insist on having the last word in it. So, it's over!"

© chris maser 2001. All rights reserved.

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