On the Meaning of Inequality

Just last month, the Urban Institute released their report on inequality in the United States, and the report is sobering. As many of us have noted in recent years, the rich have kept getting richer while the poor keep getting poorer, and the Urban Institute has the numbers to support this claim and the maps to show where the worst disparities lie. I suggest you follow the link to their report, provided here, and see for yourself.

“…the top quintile (20 percent) of American households

held over 80 times the net worth

of the second-lowest quintile in 2011.”

Here is graphic proof that this country does not accept the principle of oneness. The one thing this report and its maps do not show, though, is the suffering involved with poverty. Poverty involves ill-health and hunger, cold, violence, and fear. No one should have to live this way. The wealthy seem to have no qualms of conscience, however. Since they are the only ones with the power to alleviate this suffering, but do not, it seems clear to me that the wealthy view the poor as lesser beings and not worth the trouble. They believe the poor are meant to do menial work and have less; they do not want to be near them if they can help it, as borne out by the maps of the divergent housing areas for the rich and the poor. The fact is, we are not ontologically different; the differences lie primarily in degree of aggression. There are those who simply want more power and are willing to do whatever is required to obtain it. The resources of our planet are finite, and those who grab more than their share deprive others of theirs. The only way a wealthy person can become wealthy is by taking from the poor.

Our hope lies in fostering a contemplative consciousness and spiritual practice. The belief in oneness is the foundation for a new society of justice and sharing. Without this, the environment and society will deteriorate further, and no one, even the wealthy, will have anything. Once the wealthy have used up their stockpiles of food, who will grow any more, if all the farmers are gone due to violence, starvation, and disease? The wealthy may hold out longer, but even they will have to pay the price for their unjust advantage. I would like to see this scenario recede from the realm of possibility a little further than it is at present.

Although a spiritual change of the magnitude I suggest would take generations to come to pass, it is still worth attempting, as it provides a sure basis for a more just society. Those who see all creation as one will make decisions based on this value and belief, and those decisions will affect the larger society. But in the end it will not be enough for individuals to develop oneness consciousness and live justly, the whole society must enact justice in its policies so that inequities such as those described in the abovementioned report are not perpetuated. A critical mass of those who accept oneness is enough to tip the balance. When we accept oneness, we can see the value of others, and cannot accept their degradation.

Copyright © 2015 Teresa Chupp.  All rights reserved.

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