Updated: Feb 8
We were NOT created or conditioned equally. So why insist on equality?
R = Receive – love and accept others for who they are.
E = Equalize – stand beside others as equals. Not above them. Not below them.
S = See – Notice others. Don’t treat others like they’re invisible.
P = Protect – Stick up for others. Never bully another human being.
E = Empathize – Listen to the stories of others. Try to feel what they feel.
C = Compliment – People crave affirmation. Compliment them.
T = Thank – People crave appreciation. Thank them.
Second, when you give the unconditional GIFT of respect you equalize.
You TREAT people as equals. Not as being inferior to yourself. Nor as being superior to yourself. But as equals.
You were born into a world where it is all about dominance and superiority. A world of oppressive coercion and psychotic competition. Every setting of life brings with it an “I AM better than you, so I can ACT better than you” setup.
And to be completely honest, we're NOT all equal.
And we were NOT all created equal.
Yes, I just said that.
We were NOT all created equal.
Some people just have the DNA that makes them bigger and stronger. Some people are smaller and weaker.
Some people have a more beautiful face and figure. Some people are less attractive in face and bodily shape.
Some people are naturally healthier. Some people are born more sickly.
Some people are inherently smarter. Some people come into this world less intelligent.
We were NOT all created equal. This is a FACT, not an opinion.
But not only were we NOT created equal, we were NOT conditioned equally.
That is, we are NOT equal by nature, and we are NOT equal in nurture.
Children are NOT born, reared, mentally programmed, trained, and conditioned in equal environments and circumstances.
Some people are born into wealth and opportunity. Some people are born into poverty and destitution.
Some people have better parents. Some people have worse parents.
Some people are loved and cared for in their formative years. Some people are abused physically, verbally, emotionally, even sexually.
Some people receive better education. Some people receive inferior education.
Some people are born into freer societies. Some people are born into more enslaved societies.
Some people are born into better run countries and governments. Some people are born into absolute tyranny.
Some people are born into more technologically advanced civilizations. Some people are born into Third World Countries who are still trying to figure out water and waste management.
Some people are born into "salt of the Earth," grace-based religions. Some people are born into vile, demonic cults.
Lets face it, on this planet there are thousands of different "ways of living." And they're not all equal. And these different societal systems train, condition, and nurture us differently. Unequally.
And because of these uncontrollable circumstances of conditioning and nurture, the inequality between individuals can grow even greater.
Some children grow up to become more talented and skillful. Some children will be less talented and skillful.
Some children will grow up to have stronger wills to achieve and overcome. Some children will have weaker wills and will frequently trip over life's obstacles.
Therefore, some children will grow up to have better paying jobs. Some children will grow up struggling to survive on minimum wage.
Some children will grow up to have stronger marriages and families. Some children will grow up to form extremely dysfunctional homes.
Some children will grow up to make wiser life choices that have positive, constructive consequences. Some children will grow up to make more foolish life choices that have negative, destructive consequences.
Some children will grow up to delight in life as a precious gift. Some children will grow up to despair of life itself.
No, we were NOT created equally. No, we were NOT conditioned equally.
We are NOT equal by nature. We are NOT equal in nurture.
To word it slightly different and to further aid the memory, I would say we are NOT equal in these 5 "a's."
1) Humans are NOT equal when it comes to attributes (our DNA - our natural and inherited size, appearance, physical abilities, intelligence, general health, etc.).
2) Humans are NOT equal when it comes to atmosphere (our nurturing environment - our home life, the care or cruelty of our punishing authorities, our nation, our religion, our school, our opportunities, and the types of personal, life-altering adversity we will ALL face).
3) Humans are NOT equal when it comes to ability (our opportunities to "make something of ourselves," to develop talent and skill, the quality of our education, mentors, teachers, coaches, the quality of our experiences and arenas to use our talents, etc.).
4) Humans are NOT equal when it comes to ambition (our motivational drive to work hard, persevere, overcome great adversity and opposition, and ultimately achieve).
5) Humans are NOT equal when it comes to achievement (life accomplishments).
We’re. NOT. Equal.
And its ok.
Then WHY do we all hear the idealistic MESSAGE of equality preached every day of our lives?
It is abundantly obvious that we are NOT equal.
In what ways should humans be viewed as being equal?
Since we're NOT equal - and never will be - in what ways can we help give the unconditional GIFT of respect by equalizing?
I believe in at least three ways. Let me stay with the "a's."
1) In appraisal. (Respecting another person's inherent value and worth and treating them with kindness instead of cruelty.)
2) In authority. (Respecting another person's inherent desire to live and feel free, to make their own choices.)
3) In assistance (Respecting another person's dream of a better life and helping them to achieve it.)
I know. This has all been a lot to take in.
Let's briefly recap.
We are NOT equal in attributes, atmosphere, ability, ambition, and achievement.
But for a MUCH better world, we should TREAT one another as equals when it comes to appraisal, authority, and assistance.
Let me use you five children (all currently ages 14 and younger) as the primary illustration of all we've talked about so far.
Let's begin with the five ways you were NOT born equal.
First, even within our singular family, you five children (Ray, Lands, Joe Jr., Max, and Hallie) were NOT born equal in your physical attributes.
You five children differ in your natural attributes of height, weight, reach, bone structure, muscle tone, facial features, and all the differences between boys and girls.
And with Lands having Downs Syndrome, he has an extra chromosome. He will never be as tall. He will never be as strong. He will never be as fast. He's cute as all get out, but he will never look "normal."
Equality? Not in physical attributes. You were NOT born equal in this way.
Second, and surprisingly, you five children differ in atmosphere. Ray and Lands were born into a different atmosphere than Joe Jr., Max, and Hallie.
Seven years ago, a lot changed in our lives when we moved from Chicagoland with the oldest three of you (at the time, Joe Jr. was only 15 months old) to the mountains of North Carolina.
Our landscape changed. Way less urban. Way more rural. Different town. Different house. Different circle of friends. Different churches. Different schools. Different teachers. Different coaches. Different extracurricular activities. Different parents (younger, more inexperienced parents versus older, more experienced parents and evolving parental philosophies). Different profession for your father whose beliefs had changed. And, of course, our family dynamic further changed with the births of two more children.
It's remarkable that five children born from the same gene pool and reared in the same home are NOT equal when it comes to nurturing atmosphere.
Third, you five children differ in your personal abilities. You are NOT all the same speed. You are NOT all the same strength. You are NOT all the same in your athletic skills. You are NOT all the same in your academic and mental abilities. You are NOT all the same in your verbal skills and speaking abilities. You are NOT all the same in your social abilities and confidence.
And, of course, Lands is the most glaring example of all this. He's not fast. He's not strong. He's not athletic. He's not able to learn fast. He's limited in his vocabulary. Because of the Autistic tendencies he's also developed, he's overwhelmed in a large, social setting.
Equality? Not in personal ability. You were NOT born equal in this way.
Fourth and Fifth, you five children will differ in ambition and achievement. While the jury is out for while - perhaps a long while - in these areas, you five will NOT be equal in strength of will, self-control, self-motivation, work ethic, perseverance, compassion, character, wisdom/foolishness of choices, and ultimately your life's focus and accomplishments.
You five are NOT equal in attributes, atmosphere, ability, ambition, and achievements.
As parents, your mother and I passionately desire that you will always TREAT one another as equals. That you give one another the unconditional GIFT of respect by equalizing one another.
How is this done?
First, in your appraisal of one another. Respect each other's inherent value and worth.
You know that in the spirit of "Fixer Upper" we have fixed and flipped a few single family homes. Before we've sold any home, we've always had an appraiser come out. He assesses the value of the home and gives his judgment as to what he thinks the home is worth.
As we talked about in the intro of this series, this is the essence of respect. It is to increase a person's sense of value and worth. It's taking a pen to another person's "price tag." Disrespect is lowering the price. Respect is raising the price.
Let me give you a father's perspective.
Imagine I placed a price tag on each of you five children. Then I took a black Sharpie and wrote on each of your price tags your “appraised value” according to my personal judgment.
Which of you five would I give the highest value to?
Would it be Ray because he's the oldest, biggest, strongest, and currently the most academically and athletically accomplished?
Would it be Joe Jr. because he has undeniable charisma, a magnetic personality and is gifted athletically?
Would it be Max because he won the genetic lottery for good looks and hypnotizes people with his dynamic, blue-diamond eyes?
Would it be Hallie because she is the only girl and is bright, beautiful, and a blast to be around?
And what about Lands?
Because Lands has Down’s Syndrome, should I appraise his value as being significantly lower than the rest of you?
To be clear, he IS inferior in ability, attributes, and achievement to the rest of you. Should I really respect him as your equal? Should I really appraise his value as being equal to the rest of you?
Because his intrinsic humanity gives him equality to the rest of you. His appraisal is equal to yours.
If a man barged into our house and said to me, “I’m going to kill one of your children, which one will it be?”
My answer would NOT be, “Kill the Down’s boy, he’s not as valuable.”
I would fight for his survival as much as the rest of you.
Treat each other this way. Treat each other as equals even though you're not equal. You do this by realizing your "appraised value" as a human being is no greater than that of other human beings.
By the way, let's not forget something. In many ways, Lands is far superior to ALL of us.
How many people has he bullied and belittled in his lifetime? None.
How many people has he called nasty names? None.
How many hearts has he touched through his sweet spirit, addicting smile, contagious laughter, and warm personality?
Lands is the normal one. He's the superior one. We need to be more like him.
Second, you TREAT each other as equals in the area of authority.
Back to Lands as the supreme example of this.
Because Lands is inferior in ability, attributes, and achievement to the other four of you does not mean he deserves to be dominated by you. Your superiority in so many areas of life does not give you authority over him.
You are to respect his desire to live and feel free.
Just because you're bigger does not give you the right to bully him.
Just because you're stronger does not give you domination rights over him.
Just because you're smarter does not give you sovereignty over him.
Just because you're more attractive does not make you his boss.
Just because you're more socially confident does not make you his judge.
Just because you're more skilled at sports and at nearly everything does not make you his master.
Just because you're going to have more wealth and possessions one day does not make you God of his life.
It is my belief that being superior to someone does give you the irresistible right to own, order, and oppress another human being.
You are NOT his authority. You are his equal.
And OUTSIDE of our immediate family, never forget these truths.
That because someone is smarter, more physically attractive, and wealthier does not confer domination rights over "dumber," "uglier," and "poorer" people.
Being better or superior to someone in brains, beauty, brawn, talent, wealth, or even “morality,” is not an irrevocable license to bully and belittle the one you have judged to be “inferior” to yourself.
Some people in this world will be richer than you. You're not inferior to them.
Some people in this world will be poorer than you. You're not superior to them.
Some children in this world may be more beautiful than you. You're not inferior to them.
Some children in this world will be less beautiful than you. You're not superior to them.
You get the idea.
Equality is not about talent. It is about how we all desire to be treated - with kindness.
Treat all people with respect and kindness by equalizing.
Stand beside others. Not above them. Not below them. But beside them, so that we may all move forward together in peace and mutual respect.
We all have equal appraised value. We all have equal worth.
We all have the desire to own ourselves, to make our own choices, and to design our own lives.
It's called the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Freedom is NOT real on this current planet. It's pure fantasy.
But what IS real is the individual DESIRE to be free.
Each individual's natural desire to live and feel free should be the great equalizer on this planet.
Third, you TREAT each other as equals in the area of assistance.
Respect the desire and dreams of another person for a better life and assist them in achieving it.
This is really basic, but I don't want you to miss this. This world can be a pretty crappy place to live because of one major reason:
Historically, the purpose of life has been to BE BETTER than other people.
The result: hatred, perpetual war, bloodshed, lust for power, domination, control, bullying, cruel treatment and oppression of each other.
It's made Earth a dark place to live.
Is there a light in this darkness? Is there a better way?
Having a renewed purpose in life of MAKING LIFE BETTER FOR other people.
Again, Jesus is an example of this.
In Matthew 20, an ambitious mother came up to Jesus. She was the mother of James and John, two of Jesus' closest disciples.
She wanted Jesus to make her two sons the most famous and powerful rulers in the kingdom of God. She wanted one to sit on his left hand and one on his right.
Jesus made them no promises along these lines. He said this was God the Father's decision, not his.
Because of this conversation, the other 10 disciples got pretty angry with James and John.
Jesus diffused the whole situation in Matthew 20:25-28, by saying,
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
It shall not be so among you.
But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus was saying in effect to all 12 of his disciples:
"Your purpose in life is NOT to be better THAN one another. Your purpose in life is to make life better FOR one another. The whole world has the goal of subjugating one another. We're NOT going to do that. We're going to serve one another."
Jesus taught his disciples to give each other the unconditional GIFT of respect by serving.
I challenge you children to give each other the unconditional GIFT of respect by equalizing and ultimately serving one another.
It's all about how you treat each other.
Treat each other with respect in terms of:
1) appraisal - "You're as valuable as I am."
2) authority - "I'm not the boss of you. I don't own you. I recognize and respect your right to make your own choices in life."
3) assistance - "What can I do to help you achieve your goals and fulfill your dreams?"
May you five children always remember this second way that you give the unconditional GIFT of respect. You equalize. Stand beside others as equals. Not above them. Not below them.