One of the values that I have kept in my yearly integrity reports is:
To make the world better for others.
The world would be boring if I only cared about myself. I’m not interesting enough to entertain myself for my whole life so I look outwards and try to make other people’s days better.
To do this, you can lend an ear and listen to people. To do so without concerning yourself about how to respond in the best way or thinking about the best time to interrupt them.
Another is to offer a hand and help them reach a solution to a problem they might have.
Another is to simply provide good company and care about them the way you’d care about any important person you have in your life. You can be the person who’s always able to make them laugh or make really good food.
The one thing all of these have in common is this:
To treat them as equals.
Equality is important but it’s usually thought of in terms of things like money and making sure everyone gets fair access to healthcare (It has definitely been a huge mainstay of political philosophy).
What about how we view ourselves in relation to other people? This is a much easier starting point for more people to reach the Good and Equal Society but easily overlooked because it doesn’t seem to have a grand impact you can read about in the news.
Elizabeth Anderson, a political philosopher, wrote an article titled What’s the Point of Equality?
She argues that it is up to the government and its citizens to create a society where people have equal social relationships. An equal society is one where we treat others with respect, don’t marginalise, oppress and so on.
Why is this important for me?
Anderson’s argument was in relation to the state more specifically and creating institutions which promote social equality. However, there is an important message for individuals like you and me.
When we treat people like equals, we make everyone’s life better.
And that’s what I love about it.
Seeing the person next to you as an equal rather than someone you look down on with contempt or someone you view as flawless, you appreciate them for both their positives and their flaws.
Of course no one is perfect, but it’s easy to get into the trap of thinking that regardless. Even if it isn’t explicit. Everyone hurts, cries, laughs, smiles at some point. It’s important to make sure that we appreciate these things.
I attended a political … “thing” two weeks ago.
…I call it a “thing” because it wasn’t rally but it wasn’t calm. It was bizarre. I’ve never been part of something where everyone is just following one person around getting pictures of a political candidate looking “human”.
Or in a place where security needs to be sassy for no reason. Or in a place where little children present perfect picture opportunities instead of the child just… being a child. There wasn’t much wrong with it. It was just weird, you know?
I decided to go because I wanted to help my dad. I kept on losing him though but I have no idea how because we were in a town centre where the only interesting thing is a KFC and a Subway that closes whenever it wants.
I’ve said this a few times but it was just so weird. But I’ve decided that if I’m ever a celebrity, my bodyguards are going to be a flurry of cute dogs because they’ll distract everyone while I walk around in peace.
Back on topic:
With the idea of equality running around in my head, I decided to talk to people just to talk to them. I learned a lot.
A lady called Caroline spoke to me about her work with people with learning disabilities. She was complaining that she needs to log indecent things about the people she helps (like frequency of bathroom breaks) otherwise her funding gets cut. Interestingly enough, she’s still there and wants the best for them. She wants to take a level three qualification (like an A level) so she can do more advanced work.
She called herself a fighter. I have to agree!
A man called Mark spoke to me about the political disagreements we had. And it was probably the most civil 5 minute conversation I could have asked for.
The child I met, Ruby, was just cool. She has no sense of direction. But she’s cool.
To me, just talking to other people and hearing what they had to say reminded me that listening is an act of humility. Treating other people as equals instead of assuming they’re better or worse than you opens up an enlightening conversation and often makes the world a little better.
Bit by bit equal social relationships are fostered. To me, it also strengthens your personal character and your resolve to improve yourself personally.
To make the world better for others and to try improving your own life, start with an emphasis on equality.
An equal relationship between you and me. You and your friends and family. You and the stranger you see on the train.
A relationship without contempt, condescension, idolisation or oppression. And with that comes a better world for everyone.
As always, thank you for reading!
The Sunday Monday Post is a slight stray from my usual style of writing. It’s more of a stream of consciousness on a topic that interests me. My question for you is:
What do you do to make your relationships more equal?