The role and issues of treating community members equally
By Pierre Belhomme
January 6, 2011. Revised January 27, 2011.
The Goal of Equality
The strategy of evaluating equality in communities seems intended to develop community success through appropriate treatment of community members. Though equality might seem to be a simple standard to implement and evaluate, in practice, certain aspects of equality seem very complex perhaps because, in my opinion, equality seems to be more of an intuitive perception than a calculable attribute. The following examples seem to be key aspects of community member treatment regarding which equality is considered important.
Equality in Community Member Value
Generally, community members seem to want to avoid being considered less valuable than other community members. However,it seems that community members can only guess at the valuation thoughts of others. This seems to suggest some limitation in true identification and addressing of thoughts of inequality. The only methods I can think of to address inequality, therefore, seem to be proactive education on equality and reactive investigation of perceived expressions of inequality.
Equality in Life Enjoyment
Another goal of equality seems to be that no community member is prevented from enjoying life as much as any other community member. Based on the theory that enjoyment is essentially thought-based, however, accurately assessing this metric also seems inherently limited.
Equality in Resources
Another goal of equality seems to be avoiding inappropriate resource imbalances. However, differences in community member circumstances seem to complicate assessing resource balance among community members. Different community members with different goals and/or abilities, for example, might require different types and amounts of resources. Many apparent potential differences in individuals' circumstances that humankind has no objective method of accurately assessing or comparing seems to make it difficult, if not impossible for humankind to accurately assess community member resource balance.
Complexity of Resource Equality Goals
Resource equality seems to include three apparently distinct goals that seem, at times, complementary and, at other times, mutually exclusive: equality of physical resources, equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Equality of physical resources seems to suggest that similar physical resource amounts are allocated to community members. Equality of opportunity might provide more of a physical resource to a community member to overcome impediments to success not experienced by another community member. Equality of outcomes might continue to supply resources to a community member until an outcome similar to another community member's outcome is achieved.
The conflict seems to be whether equality of opportunity refers to opportunity tailored to the circumstances of individual persons or to a "standardized" opportunity perhaps based upon an average or arbitrary value. Adopting either definition might be considered to shortchange community members to whom the other definition more closely fits. The person-specific definition seems the best solution since an average, despite community members' desires to the contrary, will, by definition, be insufficient for the person whose circumstance warrants more opportunity than the average circumstance.
If these analyses are accurate, perhaps important steps in developing community success include recognizing the complexities of and limitations in assessing and achieving equality, remembering the importance of pursuing the different facets of equality when interacting with community members and, where appropriate, educating on equality.