Inequality is conceived in the mind. I’m not a psychologist nor a student of psychology. But, the question of where inequality originates is a recurring one. In trying to find an answer to this recurring question, it dawned on me that inequality stems from the mind, a perception of others as inferior, undeserving, and of lower status than one’s self.
There is only one equal relationship that exists – the peer relationship ie. adult to adult, child to child and so on. If one sees others as having something in common or being within a group of equal peers.
However, other unequal relationships are often at play in our interaction with others. Parent – child, teacher-student, master – servant or master-slave…
Some of these unequal relationships may change and become more equal but others, like master-servant/ slave, employer – employee persist. It may be for always. There’s a set mentality, bordering on the caste system. A slave is forever a slave even if free on paper. Discrimination sets in. Borders are established on various grounds down to skin tone.
We know this apartheid to be wrong in principle but justify our warped emotions with negative generalisations, often more untrue. At the very heart of this inclination to discriminate, dehumanise and demonise is FEAR. Fear of the other whom we don’t know nor understand. Thus, slaves are slaves forever.
It is this ideology of inequality and inculcation of ‘unequalness’ that has driven the maintenance of an unequal status quo between conqueror and conquered, victor and loser, colonisers and colonised, master and slave.
Thus, the existence of systemic discrimination, institutionalization of apartheid, racism and xenophobia. This ideology of inequality justifies the denial of the humanity of those perceived to be of lower status and intelligence.
Systemic racism and the institutionalization of discrimination whether negative or positive has become normalized in our lives. The caste system becomes cast in iron in all its forms and variations. Thus, we live with inequality inculcated into our perceptions of the world and all living in it. We become the very instrument of what we know we should oppose based on emotion, the need for self-glorification and assurance of our acceptability in society, our ego boosters. We think of this as self-love. Who doesn’t need this?
It avoids the larger picture, the reality, the truth of our existence, that we live in an unequal world community that seldom wants to admit its unequal nature but lends much lip-service to the virtues of justice and peace.