Yesterday I had another wonderful talk with my wonderful friend. I mentioned something that had happened which had hurt my feelings, and that I was frustrated with the circumstances that seemed to be behind the happening. She, insightful as always, said, “I think you might feel this way because you are egalitarian, and have such a strong sense of fairness. You treat people fairly, giving them the benefit of the doubt, and you are hurt when they don’t treat you that way.”
Oh, my wise friend, who knows me so well! She summarized it marvelously.
I was raised to view and treat all people – no matter what color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, race – with fairness. To refrain from judgment as long as possible, and to give people the benefit of the doubt. Certainly, I have tried to do so, even more so now because I have made plenty of mistakes in my life. I try to treat people fairly, to look past the outside and any masks, and to see beyond what others may not. This does not always go over well, but on the other hand, I have had people confide secrets in me, tell me things they are ashamed of because they knew that I would not respond with harshness. It’s not my right, or my place.
Now, I am not saying this to say “hey look at me, I’m perfect” because I am most definitely not. I don’t go around telling people about my innermost beliefs and way in which I want to live my life – that is up to people who meet me to get to know as they get to know me. And I’ll be honest, I am not always the easiest person to get to know, especially when I have been hurt. The face that people see of me is my true face – I don’t act. I am not a “good time girl” who puts up a front – that’s just too exhausting and inauthentic. Unfortunately for me, that means people see that I make plenty of mistakes. I sometimes get depressed, and get lost in the darkness. I am human, and can get hurt. These are the times in which I become all about me, and am not so great at remaining mindful, not only of myself, but of others.
These are, ironically, the times when I need people to show me kindness and fairness. But life isn’t fair, as anyone over the age of two has learned, and people are judgmental.
What is egalitarianism anyway? I searched for a quote that would sum it up in a nice package. Of course, finding a quote with the word egalitarianism in it is rather a challenge, but I found a definition that sums it up nicely: Egalitarianism is the belief that all people are equal and should be treated as such.
An easy concept, isn’t it? Why do we find it so hard to put into practice?