THE FATALISM OF DICHOTOMIES: The Inequality of Equality

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The Fatalism of Dichotomies is a collection of 8 essays written by Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle**, a Motswana writer with roots in South Africa too. The collection of pieces is framed to be objective, in that it endeavours to explore the New Black Conscious through the scrutiny of some of humanity’s most prevailing dilemmas.

I’m quite notorious for calling or rather, finding people stupid. It is a transgression that I’m unable to shake off. I call people stupid not because of any superiority complex issues. I will admit that the former has not always been the truth. Still, I don’t find people stupid because they may not be gifted in academia. I find people stupid because we are, as people, stupid. A good friend of mine finds the word derogatory, to say the least. I use it to infer to people’s unwilling nature to view an understanding, a lifestyle and background that opposes their grooming. I’m not saying I have no prejudices nor do I not hold any stereotypes. I do, I’m a product of the calamity of the aggregation of my environment. I, however, as both an attempt to be independent of circumstance and still being dependent on the circumstance have managed to an extent, to circumnavigate this condition.

The truth is what you choose to believe— the moment and person who shared this statement remains somewhat a fleeting memory. But what it represents and the moment of clarity it brought remain unscathed. The truth is what we choose to believe. Such a vicious thing to say but also the truth hurts. The truth seems to be subjective making lies and deciet a more complex conundrum. We have all had to lie and we have all lied. It is always up for debate whether the truth was deserved or wasn’t. The decision to lie is far more reaching than we usually intend but nonetheless it always sets in motion a domino effect we were not ready for. The problem of lying is not the lie but two things; the first being the issue of respect and the second being the lies that are needed to cover up the first lie. The liar usually justifies the lie by saying they were trying to protect the victim but be that as it may, ultimately it is manipulative. The perpetrator in only trying to protect themselves. The protection of the victim is secondary. 

There are many ways to tell a lie, among the best are telling half-truths or lying by omission. In these aforementioned methods, it’s almost impossible to say the person lied because; 

  1. They may have not told you the entire truth but it can be argued they didn’t lie, they just didn’t share the whole truth with you.
  2. If they omit something from you to their benefit they did not explicitly formulate an elaborate facade to sway you. They just did not actively engage you with the truth.

Is it not funny? How we all have been on both sides of this experiment and have used the exact same logic? 

The fight for equality is nearly Neolithic in its right. Is it not what evolution is about? Species levelling the playing field? Is it not what theism is about? Or at least so in principle, the fight for a world in which all of us are equal? But what is equal? Truly, what is at the core of equality and what does it mean to be equal? 

One dares not speak with puissance in regards to equality or risk again the dangers of divine potency. And that what in essence is the trouble of equal because it is the promised land. But what many fail to realize is that the land is a pilgrimage and the promise a vow to be unrelenting on the journey. But we will return to this later. Equal, at least for me, seems more like a teenage fantasy. The unbias and unshakable truth, speaking matter of factly, we are not equal, we are not meant to be equal and we will never be equal. The problem is that we often mistake the opposite of oppression to be equality but the truth is equality was never the antonym for oppression. In a sense, oppression is the child of equality; for oppression stems from the need to at least be at some par with your oppressor. These words may be taken out of context but they are not said candidly. Throughout epochs, a system of governance supposed to be more than just its predecessor has come to be even more cruel for it not only gave hope but buried the deaths of its plague in the trivial and mundane, such that it is almost too impossible to see the on-going genocide. 

We seek must seek not to be equal but to be fair. And fairness is a much higher ask and an even steeper, more exorbitant remuneration but it is the only one we must ask of ourselves and others. There is no equality in nature. In a pride of lions, the lionesses do almost all the hunting and all the work but it is the male who is the king of the jungle. This is so not because the lionesses are weak. It is not so because the lion is any less powerful to do the work himself. It is so because it is the order of nature. The lioness knows the power of the lion and the lion knows that the lioness knows of his power and strength. And that is what order is. It is through understanding this system, understanding that equality lies not on the ideals of men but on the laws of nature. However, we can overcome this by only, and only, assimilating our ideals into the laws of nature and not assuming them to be the laws of nature.

A pious man pledges allegiance to whatever powers lie beyond reason and he must at all times be leal to those powers. Even more so when the powers deem it necessary to unleash all the angst the world has to offer upon him. Then, that becomes his true test and he thinks not of equality but questions why? How is this fair given he has only but been a loyal retinue? The world is unequal because it is unfair. There is no room for equality because equality is not the rule of nature. 

Being a good person despite what you have been told amounts to nothing in regards to you being treated equally. It means nothing in the face of inequality, injustice and unfairness. And that is unfair. To revert to the notion stated, the truth is what you choose to believe and what it means– whether or not I tell the truth, it is ultimately upon you as the one receiving the information to make sense of it and decide upon examination if it is true. The paradox here being; even I do tell the truth or a convincing lie it matters not if you trust me not. But it is also a paradox because you believing me determines our relationship and its past. So the other gives away for the other or they, in parallel collide to inform your decision. Believing what is to be true or not then rests solely upon you and rests solely upon me all at once. And that is what true equality is; it the duty of both the oppressor and the oppressed, the levy upon which the slave allows the masters to subdue and levy him. He (slave master) is the lion and the slave the lioness. But unlike the lioness, the slave can attain with enough time and practice, the power of the slave master. And for the slave, that is his equality. 

Just as our narrator understands that he is independent of circumstance, that very independence is a result of being dependent on circumstance therefore by extension his independence was and is dependent on circumstance. Therefore, he is both, as in superposition and as the parable and paradox of Schrödinger’s cat. That what equality truly is and we have not even begun to allude to admitting to the cat’s death. So equality in layman’s terms does not address the unfairness of the world but only grows the inequality of society. We are all stupid– me for not being understanding of another’s plight in being unable to understand their shortcomings, thus making this my shortcoming. And you or whoever, because of the unwillingness to forfeit the notions of a utopia in which equality is fairness. Therefore our true burden is not with nature but with our understanding of nature’s laws. Someone will always find to trick and supersede someone. And they too will follow under the same fate. It’s inevitable and unstoppable. But it need not be unjust and unfair. We need to create a system which affords all creeds of man, the fair opportunities and they only left with the action of pursuing the opportunities. But we must refrain from the notion that we must be equal because equality means all. Whereas fairness means we address the misdeeds privilege affords the elite and counteract them with affording them with opportunities that will grow the underprivileged. Remember that; 

  • 2×2=4 and
  • 2(2×2) = 2(4) are not the same.

~ ~

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**Onkarabetse M. Mokgatle is a Motswana writer from Mmankgodi with roots in Potchefstroom & Mafikeng in South Africa as well. He has been an avid writer since his pre-teens, but his love for literature dates back to his mastery of nursery rhymes at just 5 years old. He pursued his writing skills via various forms all through his teenage years, eventually moving into facilitating and nurturing other talents in his early 20’s. He eventually took a 2-year hiatus from writing which ended in 2019, when he rekindled his love affair with writing through a series of brilliant ideas. In 2020, these ideas would go on to grow into ambitious multimedia projects originating from Africans, For Africans.


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