“Equality should be enforced by law.”

By Robert W. Blake

According to the Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal.”

But man is a creature of limitations. He is limited as to height, weight, strength, health, intelligence, beauty, virtue, inheritance, environment, everything. Since these limitations vary from man to man, no man is equal to another, not physically, mentally, morally, or spiritually. In fact, all men are created unequal, except in one sense: All men are created equal under the Law. All men are equally subject to the same physical laws, the law of gravity, nutrition, growth, and so on. And all men are equally subject to the same moral laws: thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not kill, and the like. Since civil law is, or ought to be, an extension of moral law, all men should be equally subject to civil law. Whether a man is rich or poor, strong or weak, black or white, influential or a nonentity, should make no more difference under civil law than under physical or moral law. This is what is meant by the Declaration of Independence: All men are created equal under law.

Some well-meaning people, however, observing the limitations and consequent inequalities among individuals, now seek to go beyond mere equality under law and to enforce equality by law. Whereas equality under law protects unequal persons equally, equality by law penalizes some and rewards others for being unequal. This is Marxism: From each according to his means, to each according to his needs. Christ, on the other hand, said: “Sell what thou hath and give to the poor.” The only difference is free will. Marxism is an attempt to achieve Christianity by force.

The Fair Employment, Fair Housing, Re-Training, and Public Accommodation bills, while motivated by Christian concern for the victims of prejudice, involve the taking of jobs, housing, funds, and accommodations by force from the rightful (though prejudiced) owners and bestowing them upon others in the cause of equality.

Such equality by law is wrong for three reasons:

First, it requires taking by force what belongs to another. This is stealing, and the Law is, “Thou shalt not steal.” Worse, it threatens the owner with fine or imprisonment and actual death, if he resists. This is killing or threat to kill, and the Law is, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Second, if mere need or inequality confers upon the state the right to steal or kill, then each of us can, and many of us do, demand that the state steal or kill in our behalf, for we are all needy and unequal. If it is right for the state to steal or kill on behalf of a minority, how much more right to steal or kill on behalf of the majority! Since the state is controlled by the majority, it is inevitable that the minority finds itself legislated out of the very jobs, homes, subsidies, and accommodations sought through legislation. And life itself may be the cost! The liquidation of countless Kulaks in Russia and Jews in Germany was the foreseeable consequence of conceding to the state the right to steal and kill in the cause of equality.

The only safety for minority and majority alike, since each of us is a minority, is to affirm and defend the individual’s absolute and inviolable right to life, liberty, and property, including his right to hire, sell, accommodate, and subsidize whom he pleases. That a man is prejudiced in the exercise of these rights does not confer upon the state the right to initiate or threaten violence against him. Every man has a right to his prejudice, which is his opinion. He does not have a right to enact his prejudice into law.

Third, being created unequal, the only equality a human can aspire to is perfection, moral and spiritual. Such perfection is achieved not by using force against my neighbor, but by using force against myself. If I set out to perfect society by perfecting my neighbor, I must ultimately kill my neighbor for only my neighbor has any power to perfect himself. But if I set out to perfect society by perfecting myself, and my neighbor does the same, there is some hope of a more perfect society. If perfecting myself is my goal, the fact that my neighbor is imperfect does not oblige me to kill him, but to tolerate his imperfections as an aid to perfecting myself.

This, then, should be the goal of all individuals and groups. Instead of struggling outward for equality, struggle inward. Let us spend our energies enlightening ourselves and our own groups, beautifying our own neighborhoods, curbing our own propensity to violence and crime. Instead of trying to cultivate virtue in others, concentrate on cultivating virtue in ourselves. As this is done, true worth will command respect and the last barriers will fall. This goal can be achieved not by force and violence, applied by law from without but only by free will and discipline exercised under law from within.