Of Social Inequality There Is Much To Remove. But It Is Natural Inequality Which Is a More Serious Matter

“There then lies the only true equality, namely, that God lives equally in all that exists. All have hidden within them the possibility of rising to the highest perfection; all have the certainty of ultimate perfection.

But in the course of evolution, in the long evolutionary chain of life, there the inequalities come in. That is a fact which is too often forgotten by those who speak of equality. Yet look around you; place yourself in imagination at the gateway of birth, as the thronging souls press in to embody themselves in new forms. One goes into a form healthy and strong; another goes into a form polluted with the germs of hereditary disease. One goes into a form nobly planned and splendidly executed; another into a form crippled and misshapen. One shows the qualities of a saint, another the qualities of a criminal. One is born a philanthropist; and another is born a barbarian.

Are these equal? These from their very birth itself are marked unequal. Oh! what is the use of deluding ourselves with words that have no meaning? what is the use of saying that men are born equal, and talking about a universal equality which nature denies? Of social inequality there is indeed much that you may remove. But that is far less serious. It is natural inequality which is a more serious matter.

And that people forget when they are talking about both nations and individuals. It is the difference of inborn capacity that matters far more than the difference of social position; it is this which separates one nation from another, one man from another. You find one man to whom an opportunity comes, and he goes by it blindly and sees it not. Another man, when a similar opportunity comes, leaps forward and grasps it, or, if it does not come near enough to him for grasping, he cuts his way to it until he holds it in his hands.

Oh! there lies the inequality which no human laws can touch, which no social conditions may avert. Equal opportunity for all that perchance you may make in a far future; but equality of capacity to use it that you cannot make. That does not lie with the men of any generation. And so, we must face the fact, that Brotherhood does not mean equality, but a real Brotherhood of elders and youngers, a great human family in which some are much older than others, and some are very young, very ignorant, very foolish.” (Annie Besant. The Ideals of Theosophy. pp. 16-18; emphasis added)