There’s nothing that unites us more than pain. Adults seek the crying baby, children seek the bleeding rabbit, and doctors seek the starving child. The avoidance of pain, for others and ourselves, is humanity’s common objective, one that we stumble and struggle and fight to convey – yet we allow people, children, to starve, we let men lie lifeless on moon-streaked streets with only twilight and copper coins to fill their stomachs. Humanity’s history is marred with brutality, with nausea, with hatred and antipathy; one might say that we are a contaminated race. What beauty we have had, what burning passion and blazing hope, has come about because of love; visceral, spiritual love between ourselves - all fine literature, music, art, has existed because of this. These are the two pure elements, unblemished, untarnished: love and pain.
Bearing this in mind, we must state that we are all equal. Perhaps our share of love and pain alters man to man, perhaps one is more full-hearted than the last, or one is more broken, but there is no difference between a rich woman and a poor one when they hurt; both have red blood, both have salted tears, both crinkle their eyes up when they cry, or clutch their hearts. Both rot in the grave. So is not the largest crime of all humanity the notion that one man is greater than the last, one man deserves superiority while the other should starve in the streets?
The term ‘meritocracy’ is a base, a sordid justification for such horrors as can be seen through social stratification. It works upon the theory that one’s merit or worth in a societal context can be quantified, which it most definitively cannot – the notion of judging the value of a father, or a mother, or any person on their mercenary worth is execrable. Of course one needs to be rewarded for one’s efforts, yet neoliberalism applies a make-or-break-or-balance-precariously-on-the-end philosophy to the very concept of meritocracy, in which the 1% can afford fifty-bedroom houses and real diamonds, some can hardly sustain a home and others cannot at all. We need to achieve balance within the politics of reasonable rewards for those who work hard, as well as ensuring that it is those who work hard and not those without too inauspicious a birthright who are remunerated.
The problem particularly with austerity Britain, though, is not simply that there is (supposedly) not enough money to go round for all those who have sought but failed to find employment, but that governing factions cannot simply drain them of all material supplies – it has become common practice to humiliate, dehumanise, debase, degrade anyone who has not been fortunate enough to gain a sufficient income. Through schemes such as Atos, a stigma around mental and physical health has been created which, about as reductively as is physically possible, labels every case of ill-health as simple laziness. People fail to realise, though, that even straightforward laziness and a lack of motivation to find employment should still be a recognised mental disorder, usually symptomatic of depression.
The politics of unity now need to be preached yet more than ever; the political upheaval of the past two years has electrified nation after nation until we were all left wondering what could possibly have caused this. We fail again and again to recognise that it is wealth inequality that has caused the disillusionment leading to, for example, the election of corporate demagogue Donald Trump. It’s a vicious circle – the working class are distanced from politicians, a third of whom attended fee paying schools. Corporate takeover of democracy and society leads to wealth idolatry and commodity fetishism, which leads to a rise in polarisation of people and politicians, to whom they cannot relate. Some vote decidedly for political outsiders, which leads to further disenfranchisement and vilification from those who are perfectly comfortable with where they are socially, for example the middle class. It’s divisive. It’s unnecessary. It’s hard to accept it, but politics of hate and discrimination are popular because of mainstream politics.
There’s nothing that unites us more than pain, except maybe mortality. As utterly, solidly terrifying as it is, we will all die. And when we’re dying, when we’re looking at our lives, it won’t matter if we’re lying on silken sheets or sodden straw, on four poster beds or pure, humble soil. The sun will burn the Earth. The big, black space out there will swallow us, devour us whole. Billions of years of existence will melt and boil away.
We have no duty, consequently, to advance as far as possible scientifically, because maybe that won’t matter. We have no right to enslave ‘for the greater good’. The only duty that humanity has, will ever have, is to itself and its fellows. Our lives will never matter outside of the scope within which we ensure that everyone has an equal right to happiness and to love. But we can never ensure that this is the case until we have corrected the void between rich and poor, have balanced wealth inequality, have given every child equal chances at exploring their soul and finding peace with themselves.
We are all flesh and bone. We are all love and loss. We are all the same.