Why should everyone be equal
Égalité, equality, the great slogan of the French Revolution in 1789, is one of the basic demands of democracy. But that doesn't mean we are all the same.
Are we all the same? No of course not. That would be boring too. The opposite is true: every person is different from the other - even with twins. This creates a variety and colorfulness from which new things can emerge. If we all thought, acted and felt the same, there would be no progress and no development. Equality means equal rights, equal importance, equal value and thus equal dignity for everyone, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or social class.
Uniformity is different from equality
When the first kibbutzim emerged in Israel in 1909, the principle of equality was given great importance. There was no private property, everything belonged to everyone: women were allowed to have a say (in Germany women only got the right to vote in 1918, in the last Swiss canton of Appenzell in 1990!) And everyone should get the same. When clothes were picked up, you simply received the next pair of trousers and the next shirt, whether it fit or not. Everyone should take on every job once, whether they were gifted for it or not. The kibbutzim also quickly recognized that such a rigid interpretation of equality made little sense. Soon everyone was wearing shoes in their size ...
Equality as a human right means:
- Equality before the law: Prohibitions and commands apply equally to everyone. If someone breaks a law, they will be held responsible regardless of their income, position or origin.
- Equality of political weighting: After citizens had fought for a political say, the census right initially applied in many cases. It was found quite normal that whoever paid more taxes should have a greater say. That no longer applies today. In a democracy, every vote counts equally.
- Gender equality, non-discrimination and equal opportunities.
Equal opportunities is a relative term
Non-discrimination means giving everyone the same opportunities that are possible in their environment: giving them the same starting conditions, access and use of resources. Equal opportunities does not mean that a child in a third world country has the same opportunities as a child in Germany, although that would be desirable. Poor countries can only establish and maintain schools and universities to a limited extent. But every child should have the same chance of going to school and not be prevented from doing so by child labor.
Even in Germany, equal opportunities is a relative term. There is general agreement that every child, poor or rich, must be able to take part in a school trip. If the parents' financial means are insufficient, the school usually steps in. On the other hand, most people consider it perfectly normal for one child to go to the Caribbean for four weeks in the summer, the other child to stay at home and possibly take part in a vacation program in the city.
The situation in Germany
Are we really treating all citizens equally? Hardly - otherwise all equality officers would be superfluous. Although women have caught up a lot in their social position, equality (e.g. equal work - equal earnings) and equal opportunities could not be achieved everywhere. Children with a migration background or of foreign origin often do not have the same opportunities as children of German parents. Children of single parents have a significantly higher risk of poverty than other children. This list could go on and on for a long time. At the same time, however, our society repeatedly faces up to its responsibility to ensure equality and equal opportunities. One example of this is the expansion of childcare to help young women achieve more equal opportunities in the world of work.
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