Assigning Value

I’ve been tempted many times to divide people and place them within categories of worth. Throughout varying periods of my life I’ve assessed people by socio-economic background, by race, by nationality, by ethnicity, by gender, by attractiveness, by weight, by height, by eye color, by hair style, by intelligence, by sense of humor, by beliefs, by political affiliation, by their prefered form of entertainment, by what they eat, by the clothes they wear, by how much noise they make — and these are just off the top of my head, there’s more.

But I realize now, that this manner of thinking is flawed. I’ve met people along the way that shattered my preconceived notions — I was undervaluing them based on the category they fit into. And if I was proven wrong about some of those categories, it shows my fallibility, so it would be silly of me to think any of my preconceived notions are valid. If categorizing and assessing people is fraught with error, then the most logical position is to perceive everyone as equals.

So when perceiving others, I must actively reject categorization and valuation. To do any less is to succumb to the temptation of determining someone’s worth. And to place value on people is not only flawed logic — it feels wrong. Fairness requires equality, who can be satisfied in the presence of injustice?

I was so eager to divide the world, lowering some while raising others — but that’s no longer the case — my thoughts changed, new ideas replaced old ones. And for that to happen, there was no revolution, no battles, no big events, I just noticed my flawed way of thinking. In other words, this type of change does not need to be difficult. Those that place value on others aren’t bad, the ideas they hold are bad — and those ideas can be replaced with wholesome ones.

But there’s a small price to pay for seeing people as equals: society is not currently structured with equality in mind — and it’s frustrating to realize this. If no one deserves to be in a low position, and people aren’t low by choice, then that means society itself creates their position and maintains it. You can no longer look down on a particular group, and if you can’t devalue them, then their situation becomes tragic and requires mending — it’s no longer their problem, it’s everyone’s problem — but as an individual, you cannot immediately remedy the situation, hence the frustration.

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